Lesson 7: Keep It Level

Today, we’re downloading our first new app!  While there are quite a few iPhone apps to choose from, one of my particular favorites is the SmugMug app formerly called Camera! and currently called Camera Awesome.  I’m sorry to say that it’s not available for other smart phones for those of you without iPhones.

You might want to pause and download the app before you continue.

While we talked about holding the iPhone firmly and square, we didn’t talk about holding  it level.  Sometimes having a crooked photo can really ruin a great image.  This is especially true when shooting skylines, water scenes, and architecture.  Anything the eye expects to be level will usually look pretty off when it’s not–even if you can’t tell when you take the photo.

The iPhone is not easy to hold level.  I seem to come home with crooked photos all the time.  For today’s lesson, we’re going to look at using the level feature in Camera Awesome to help us find level even when it’s hard to tell by eye.

If you open up the Camera Awesome app, there is a little tab at the top of the screen that will slide open like a drawer when you tap it.  In the upper right corner, you’ll see a button to tap that toggles the level on and off on the screen.  Turn the level on so your screen looks like this:

turning on the level.003 (1)

Tap the tab again to close the drawer and now you’re ready to shoot level.  The level will turn green like in the image above when you’re holding the phone perfectly level.

In the example below, I was standing on the side of a hill looking down a slope to a sidewalk at angle to me that leads to a river.  There are lines and curves intersecting everywhere and it was impossible to tell when I was level except for the handy level feature in the Camera Awesome app:

level examples.001

As you can see (click image to enlarge), the scene looks odd when shot at an angle even though I couldn’t tell what was level when I was standing on the hillside.  Sometimes, shooting level isn’t important–and can even be a detriment.  Take a look at the following example (ignoring the fact that my dog wouldn’t hold still):

level examples.002

Your Assignment:  Can you tell which of the two images above was shot level?  I’ll give you a hint–I was surprised when I saw them side-by-side and realized which one was which.  Which one do you like better?

Now, take a walk where you can get a view of the sky or a body of water or really any open landscape view.  Try taking quite a few photos of what you see both level and not level.  Now, turn off the level feature and see if you can shoot level without it.  How’d you do?

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