I see a lot of errors when looking at photos. Whenever I see them in my photos or in other people’s photos, it weakens the image. I try to avoid making these, but sometimes, it’s unavoidable.
I want to write about my #1 pet peeve when looking at other people’s photographs: the dutch angle.
The dutch angle is a photo where the horizon is not straight. For example, here is one that I intentionally did for the purpose of this post:
Watch out Brenna! You’re gonna slide off of the earth!
If you can’t make a subject look interesting so you have to tilt it, it’s still a boring subject. Yes, that picture of the cup you took with a dutch angle is still a boring, old cup.
Did that picture of Brenna become awesome because I used a dutch angle? Nope. It still a sucky picture. Hey, at least I framed her in between the water spouts and flag pole. Oh yeah, I actually didn’t shoot this with a dutch angle, I used Lightroom to tilt it.
There are times when you can use it though. And I can only think of 2 instances: conveying movement and when the framing or composition forces you to use it.
Here’s a picture of mine using the dutch angle. This is an example where the dutch angle may convey movement.
I didn’t like it, but I used a dutch angle to take this. He was dipping her so I wanted to convey the movement of her dipping. Even still, I wonder if the dutch angle was needed.
I don’t have an personal example of composition needing dutch angles, but here’s one from someone else: http://500px.com/photo/30227051
Architecture and building photography works with dutch angles because it’s all about the lines and patterns. It’s abstract enough to not have the sense something is going to slide off of the earth. So the lines can point to the diagonals.
Furthermore, when you look up at buildings, the buildings usally converge at a vanishing point that is not in the middle. Also, it gives a feeling of height.
In my portfolio, maybe 1 in 2000 pictures have a dutch angle. Even then, a few were mistakes since some people were leaning, and I couldn’t figure out which way was straight.
So look at your portfolio. If more than 10% of your pictures have some crappy dutch angle to it and you’re not an architectural photographer, you need to stop that. It doesn’t make it dramatic, interesting, or whatever.