I was processing an image just now and finally decided to start a debate concerning something that's concerned me for a while now.
It's good form to use verticals to level a shot, but as we know some are more reliable than others. Light-poles and other 'loose' structures aren't effective and often even some larger, more stable structures aren't either.
This shot recently gave me a bit of a headache...
Photo © Karl Nixon
I always level using the original, full-size file for accuracy. Now using the buildings in the background the shot looked positively unlevel - so much so that I was advised in the feedback forum to use the apron as opposed to the verticals (pretty much unprecedented I know and certainly contrary to house rules). The re-edit looked far better but I found the unlevel buildings a touch distracting - as did whoever screened it as it was rejected for 'level'. Accepted on appeal but it does beg a very important question: are we aiming for technically level or aesthetically level?
One thing I've noticed over the past few years is just how 'out' steel hangars can be - you know, the 'Meccano' type that look as though they were thrown up overnight. Which brings me to the image I was processing a few minutes ago...
Levelled using an example of one of those flimsy hangars. Now if you look at the main landing gear you can clearly see this interpretation of level puts the aircraft on a starboard-to-port slope, with the aircraft 'listing' (to use a nautical term) to the left. But given that this is a wide-angle shot the verticals of the hangar suggest that this image requires CW rotation, as the perpendicular lines of the structure lean inward more at the right frame-edge than they do at the left. Knowing that the ground at this location is perfectly level I can only conclude that the hangar is the rogue factor here. But in which direction should we be looking in situations like this? What proportion of viewers will deem the image unlevel due to the ground and what proportion level by the hangar?
I'm not looking for a 'this is right, that is wrong' approach as I believe this is entirely down to opinion and preference. There can be no right or wrong. But it does open an interesting debate as to how level is perceived here - and offers sympathy and justification to those who may have had images akin to my examples rejected.