Straighten Your Horizons!



Between Flickr, Instagram and Facebook (sorry G+ and Pinterest…but I am overwhelmed as it is), I follow a lot of professional and amateur photographers. I love looking at and being inspired by the creativity of others.

But there is one thing that just drives me crazy and that is a crooked horizon. And I see them in otherwise excellent amateur photos everywhere. Unless you are doing something for effect somehow (like in an awesome shark picture!), don’t make me tilt my head sideways to look at your photo. And, frankly it tells me that the photographer is not paying attention to detail in their photos.

There are many articles on how to hold a camera properly so your picture will not come out crooked. However, I am frequently moving about to catch changing light or moving subjects and there are so many things to think about when taking a picture that I don’t have a lot of time to think about holding my camera perfectly level.  I just want to get the shot.  Holding a camera properly to avoid shake at slower shutter speeds, however is very important. There are some great tips on how to hold your camera for steadiness here. Or you could just listen to my mom. She’s been telling me since I was six to breathe out when hitting the shutter. Six. Like I cared. (I do now, so thank you mommy).

While fixing blur from an unsteady hold is not generally possible,  fixing the horizon line from a crooked camera is, so I tend not to worry about it too much. You lose a little of your image when fixing it, but not enough to really worry about it. Usually.

My favorite tool for fixing horizon lines are the crop, measure or lens correction tools in Lightroom. (click here for a nice tutorial on this).  Not everyone is a lover of Lightroom like I am (its true, I LOVE it). But there are similar horizon fixing tools in Photoshop. And, if, sigh…you use neither Lightroom nor Photoshop, there is a great tool for leveling photos in Picasa. And out of all the methods, the tool in Picasa is the easiest to use and apply. I love Picasa. Its my editor of choice for all of my camera phone shots and anything I want to bust out quickly. You can download Picasa free here.

So now, no excuses. Thank you for paying attention to your horizons. And, no sharks, sailboats or young photographers were hurt in the making of this photo.

Did you Photoshop that?


Yes, I use photoshop. But mostly I use Lightroom. But I also use Photoshop. Its all part of “post processing”.

Photoshop is nothing to be ashamed of (unless you are making your cats skinny). There is a whole workflow needed to move an image from raw to the final .jpg you see. Not much different than taking film and developing it, then taking a negative and exposing it. Except its faster and you can undo your work and try again. Photoshop gets a bad rap because people do bizzare things and bad memes with it, but its (or any image editing software) is a necessity in photography. And, if you want to go there, it also opens the door to unlimited photographic creativity.

I thought it might be interesting to see some before and after shots of work that I processed and show what I did. So, here is the first of might be a really techgeeky series.

This is the .jpg version of the raw image  of the photo I call “Frizzle Frazzle”:


I was shooting straight into the sun, so the image is underexposed, among other things. I converted it from raw in Lightroom and adjusted exposure, white balance, and levels.  And probably some other stuff because I can’t help myself. But basically for this image I made corrections that brought out the details in the shadow without bringing out artifacts (you can only push images so far). The resulting image was a big improvement:


But, of course, I wasn’t done with it. I brought the image into Photoshop to apply some finishing touches. I learned photography back in a darkroom and I would spend hours and hours burning and dodging a print. I basically do the same thing in Photoshop.  I still spend hours and hours… In this case I dodged and burned specific spots in the photo to add a little interest and drama. For instance, check out the difference in the water in the foreground. I also de-saturated the color a little bit.  And I added a watermark because thats what all the cool kids are doing:


And voila. Thats it.  I’ll try to do some more of these and even wander into a boring detail or two for anyone who might be interested. I can totally geek out on this stuff.

Getting all Facebook

Yes, we did it. We opened up a Facebook page. But we promise to make it fun by posting one of Brian’s drink recipes every once in a while.

Click Little Green Surf Shack on Facebook to like us.

(544) Little Green Surf Shack - Google Chrome 972013 65338 PM

Sunset Sessions

Sunset Session by Sabine Dukes
Sunset Session, a photo by Sabine Dukes on Flickr.

I don’t like to get up early. So expect to see lots more sunsets than sunrises.

The photo in this post is available as a print. If interested, contact me for more information.



Welcome to the Little Green Surf Shack.

No idea yet what we are going to do here.

Probably some surf stoke sharing, drink recipe posting, and I will likely make you look (and eventually buy) my photography.


~Sabine and Brian