How to Straighten Photos: Battling Tilted Horizons

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Now that you know about the rule of thirds and a unique way to make your images more interesting, let’s talk about some things that may distract your viewers while looking at your photos.

A common mistake I see a lot in photography is when photos have crooked horizons. Sometimes images are tilted intentionally for a unique composition. This is absolutely different than it is when a photographer just isn’t paying a lot of attention to the surroundings of their photo, and not just the main subject.

Since this happens quite a bit, and blog readers may notice such fixable elements in your blog photos, this is one of those photo editing tips that will make your images more appealing to your readers.

Photography Tip: Straightening a photo can take a picture that is so-so and make it fabulous. Learn how to make this simple change with a quick and easy photo editing tutorial.

I think it can be challenging to hold your camera straight at all times, when you have small children to corral, or you’re experiencing hand shake, or maybe you’re not on flat ground! Whatever the reason, it’s something easy to fix.


Bottom line: If your image is really slanted, then it looks like your subject is going to fall out of the frame. It has been proven that human beings generally prefer straight and level lines, and that crooked pictures hanging within our own homes can irritate us. It can feel very unnatural to see crooked horizons.

Learn how to straighten tilted horizons in your photos | photography tips

Some photographers feel this is an artistic way of taking images. That is a personal choice. However, unless your tilt is quite drastic and looks intentional, your photo just looks like a tilted horizon. I generally try to get my horizons as straight as possible, with the knowledge that artistic composition sometimes allows me to break those rules as well!


Little girl at the beach

The beach at sunset.

Pile of rocks on the beach.

It can difficult to identify the horizon or the lines in the scene that need to be adjusted or aligned. Sometimes you just have to follow your gut. If it looks visually pleasing to you, even with a slight tilt, perhaps keep it as is!

Running on the beach

Photo Straightening Tutorials

You can use different programs to create straight pictures, such as Lightroom, Photoshop Elements, and iPhoto, but if you prefer to use a free program, check out this list of great sites for online photo editing. These videos from Courtney will walk you through the process in three different softwares:

Using Lightroom to Straighten an Image


How to Use iPhoto to Straighten an Image


Using Pixlr (free online editing program) to Straighten an Image

About Tamara Bowman

Tamara is a professional photographer, a mama of two, a writer/blogger and a nearly professional cookie taster. She has been known to be all four of those things at all hours of the day and night. She is a very proud contributor to the book, The Mother Of All Meltdowns. After two cross country moves, due to her intense Bi-Coastal Disorder, she lives with her husband, daughter and son in glorious western Massachusetts. She spends her spare time looking for moose, taking pictures of her kids, and maybe – just maybe – teaching them about photography. She can be found on Facebook @Tamara Camera Photography, Twitter @TamaraCamPhoto , Instagram @TamaraCameraPhoto , and Pinterest @Tamara Camera Photography & Blog and on her blog @Tamara Camera Blog.

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