I recently returned from a family vacation to Grand Marais, Minnesota. Grand Marais is one of the small towns on what is affectionately known as the “North Shore,” which runs along the northwestern edge of Lake Superior.
Daughter had reserved a couple of cabins at the Croftville Road Cottages just north of Grand Marais, which served as our base camp during our stay. The cabins were directly above the shore, with paths down to the rocky shoreline. Erik and I could look out the sliding glass door from bed and see the lake each morning.
Between our day trips to two area state parks, the lighthouse at The Point on the lake in Grand Marais (also known as Artists’ Point), and the shoreline near our cabins, we had ample opportunity to take photos.
I was happily clicking pics of Lake Superior when I noticed something curious. Many of the photos that featured the lake meeting the horizon showed the horizon line at an uncomfortable tilt.
I’m not used to taking photos on a large body of water where the sky and water meet for a long span, so it didn’t dawn on me to look for this through my phone as I was lining up my shots.
Most of my photos are taken on land and I subconsciously line up the photo so the (often imaginary) horizon line is straight, like the following view across the top of Devil’s Kettle Falls at Judge C.R. Magney State Park.
Here are some of the photos showing the large lake horizon tilt.
Seeing the resulting horizon tilt in my photos made me feel like things would fall out of the scene. I noticed in looking back through my photo gallery that most of my horizon tilts were to the left. (I don’t know what that might say about how my brain works.)
Once I realized what was happening, I had to make a conscious effort to correct for the tilt, which wasn’t always easy. As Erik pointed out, once you have a long horizon line, the curvature of the Earth starts becoming apparent, so you’ve got that to watch for, as well.
Here is a shot where I managed to get the horizon line relatively level.
I have quite a few more photos of the lake where I was successful in avoiding the tilt, but somehow those seem not quite as exciting as the ones with the tilt.
Interesting how one line in a photo can have such a dramatic effect.