Answers To “Is This Picture Level?”

A few weeks ago, I asked a few questions about a picture of me on the Turner Riverlink. I even offered a reward for the best answers. Here are my answers.

First Question

NO, the picture is not level. The photographers’ usual reference point for getting a picture level is the horizon. One of the rules of composition says that your horizon must be perfectly straight (unless it is so far off that the viewer will know that you did it on purpose).

To see the Note click here.To hide the Note click here.
What some people call “The Rule of the Horizon Line” is just an implementation of the Rule of Thirds. In the section “Horizon Lines” in his article Using Leading Lines and Horizon Lines in Photographic Composition, Todd Vorenkamp discusses both aspects.


But what if the horizon is not available, as in this picture? Nasim Mansurov, in his article The Importance of Straightening The Horizon and Aligning Lines, discusses (and shows examples of) several options for getting your picture straight. But he didn’t mention this situation.

Bruce on Turner River (annotated)

Q2: How Do We Straighten It?

First, let me say what won’t work: allegedly horizontal elements on a canoe, like seats and thwarts, even in calm water, can be expected to deviate from horizontal as a matter of routine. This case, as it turns out, is no exception. So what can we use?

When you have a calm body of water, as we do here, and the horizon is not visible, you can still depend on the levelness of the water. As I discussed in Reflections – My Answer To “What’s Wrong With This Picture (Version 2)?”, the angle of incidence of a reflected light ray equals the angle of reflection, which means, since the surface of the water is a horizontal plane, that the reflected object will be directly under the object itself, or the line between the two will be vertical, or 90° from the horizon. In the picture above, I have identified four different reference lines. Once you are convinced that this works, you really only need one. Two things make this more challenging, however. There are floating obstacles obscuring good reflection candidates. Also, as I discussed in “Reflections…”, the reflection won’t look exactly like the reflected object due to the changed perspective. Since identifying the exact point reflected may be subject to slight errors in estimated position, the further they are apart (meaning the longer the line connecting them) the better because the error in the angle needed to rotate for the picture to be level is proportional to the positional error divided by the distance apart (for small error angles). In the above picture, the flower (labeled “A”) is an easy choice, but it and its reflection are close together. The hole in the canopy (“B”) and the more prominent branch (“C”), although less identifiable in the reflection, do have good separation distances. “D” shows that in a pinch, when no well-marked points are available, you could even use the point on a curved line where the slope of the curve and the slope of its reflection are the same (or parallel). Expect a higher positional error in cases like that.

Once you have a reference line, most editing software has a horizon-straightening feature, or at least the ability to rotate the image until your reference line is vertical. For what it’s worth, this image needs to be rotated about 8⅓° clockwise. To see the corrected version, go to the bottom of our Red Mangrove Maze image page, where you can also find the identity of the person who took this picture.

Bonus Question

For the last question of the article, which was a math problem to find my age, see the note below.

To see the Note click here.To hide the Note click here.

Timeline for age problem

As you can see in the above illustration, there are three related timespans (years before 2008, years after 2008, and total years); if you know any two, you can find the third. This is true whether you are talking in years or percentages. We want the answer in years, but we only know one of the three. As a percentage, we know two of the three, so we can (and will) know all three. What we have to do, then, is find a relationship between years and percentages.

Twelve years is less than 19% of my current age,

or 12 \leq 0.19 \times Age

Age \geq \frac{12}{0.19} \approx 63.2

Actually, I’m about 64½.

Your reward (including bonus) would be \frac{1}{0.81} \approx 1.23 times the original award, meaning your bonus would be about 23%.

And The Winner Is…

There were four responses to the original post. All addressed the title question. Nobody addressed the follow-up or bonus questions. The judges have concluded that the first correct answer and winner of this contest, receiving ten dollars off of any Bee Happy Graphic product or service, and all bragging rights, is M. Alexander (former member of Kendall Camera Club). Congratulations!

Is This Picture Straight/Level?

This is I, canoeing on the Turner River just south of the Tamiami Trail just before noon in the late spring of 2008 (when I was just over 81% of my current age). In this picture, I’m just keeping the boat steady. The photographer (who is very near and dear to me) would normally be facing the other way in a vessel like this and had to reach all the way around, without getting up, to get this shot. Is it level? If not, is there anything in the picture that would be of any help in straightening it?

Besides my usual readers, I may be inviting my Facebook friends, as well as our Instagram viewers, LinkedIn links, and members of Kendall Camera Club, as well as any of their friends and acquaintances to participate in this discussion. I will copy most of those answers below. The best answer will get ten dollars off of any Bee Happy Graphic product or service, and of course, bragging rights. This reward may be combined with other offers and awards. If two or more people come up with the same idea, the one who speaks first will win the prize. Honorable mentions may also be rewarded. You will have at least two weeks to come up with an answer. Good luck!

(OK, since I mentioned it, I might as well make it worth something; if you can tell how old I am now, based on the evidence above, I will increase your reward by the same percentage as my age has increased since this picture was taken. Is that better?)

Please enter your comments below (after submitting, there may be a delay before your comment appears). Good luck, and thank you.

Quiz: What Paper Size?

Here’s another math problem inspired by real life! Each correct answer could earn you five dollars ($5) off any of our products or services (to redeem in person, just print and show your certificate).  Good luck!

You are only allowed one try and have already submitted your quiz.

What's Wrong With This Picture (Version 2)?

It has been almost sixteen months since I submitted my last suspicious photographannouced and I just don’t have enough material to make this a regular feature, but here we go. Nancy took this picture here in Florida. I made a simple change (and cleaned it up just a bit).  So what is wrong here?

an altered sunrise photo

All comments and guesses are welcome. You have at least two weeks to figure it out and respond but don’t dilly dally. Good luck!

Nancy's Photos Are In Book About Bees

Our friend, April Kirkendoll, just finished a book about beekeeping, “Thinking Outside The Box”, and included several of Nancy’s photographs (which in this case were created specifically for this project with April’s beehives).

As you may remember, we introduced April in the Afterword of our blog post Why You Haven’t Seen Any Painted Buntings three years ago. Nancy happens to have some experience with honey beesabout, having kept conventional beehives for several years in South Miami. The two of them have discussed and practiced the hobby together on a number of occasions.

April has done extensive research and experimenting on topbar beehives, a different approach to beekeeping. I’ve only read four chapters so far so I can’t yet give a full review or endorsement, but I really like what I’ve read. Just from her contribution to “Why You Haven’t Seen Any Painted Buntings”, you can see she has a less formal, easy to read style with some humor that still gives more depth than you are likely to find in other sources.

You can purchase “Thinking Outside The Box” (as well as her other books) from Amazon, or you can probably get a better price directly from her website (Lysmata Publishing). As I’ve mentioned before, we receive no consideration (i.e. money) for our remarks or from your purchases. Nonetheless, it is time to update our current longterm promotion (originally described in the last note in the Postscript of “Why You Haven’t Seen Any Painted Buntings”).

New Offer

If you bring your copy of any book by either April Kirkendoll or Brian Rapoza to our booth, we will give you four dollars ($4) off of any purchase. If you can show any of Nancy’s photographs in those books, we will give you another dollar ($1) off.

We are looking forward to seeing you at an art festival in your area. To find out where and when that might be, you can check out our schedule as it develops here.

Our Second Biannual Caption Contest

OK, so it’s actually been almost 27 months since our first caption contestprevious. The photograph this time is not part of our regular collection, nor will it ever be, most likely. Nancy took this picture on our trip with Natural Habitat Adventures to Uganda and Rwanda in 2015 to photograph mountain gorillasdetails. As you can see, we found some. We are just starting to process those pictures now.

Bruce and silverback
Your caption could be here

This shot was taken at Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda. We were told that we weren’t supposed to get within seven meters (23 feet) of a gorilla on this hike. I’m as far off the trail (which goes off to your left) as I can get, unlike the other three gentlemen, and I’m wishing I had a wider lens. The other three managed to get out of the silverback’s way just after this photo was taken, and we all lived happily ever after.

The winner of this contest will get ten dollars off any print or service of Bee Happy Graphics. Here’s how the contest will work:

  • For at least the next three weeks, you can enter your caption idea into the comments of this article below.
  • I will announce the close of the competition and the beginning of the voting process in another comment to this blog post. I may have a plug-in for that by then and will explain the voting process in that same comment.
  • At least two weeks after that last announcement a winner will be announced. If any entry has three or more votes, the one with the most votes will be the winner. If no entry has that many votes, then I will take an informal survey among my closest family and friends, and pick the winner. The decision of the judges (as defined above) is final. This prize may be combined with other promotions.

Good luck, and let the contest begin!

Our Newest Teacher’s Poster, Pupating Monarch, Is Ready

Less than four months after creating our “Pupating Monarch” imageblog, the new posters are ready. We first mentioned these four years ago in Teacher’s Special – Laminated Poster Of “Emerging Monarch” Is Ready!. They are the same size, specifications, and price as our original poster ($15 for 17″ by 28″ signed poster, laminated on both sides).  Like the “Emerging Monarch” poster, they can’t be displayed in our booth during art festivals so you may have to ask for them (or you can contact us directly anytime and we will mail them).

My Answer To “What’s Wrong With This Picture”

Background

Several days ago, I showed a photograph and asked: “What’s Wrong With This Picture”.  Here is more information.

Sideways Moon (overview)

Nancy took this overview a minute later. Both were taken in March 2016, while we were on a trip to Antarctica. The mountains (and snow) in the first picture should have told you “we’re not in Kansas (or Florida), anymore.”video The moon in both pictures is waxing (growing) gibbous (more than half full), meaning the full moon would be five days later. Those are Gentoo penguins you see in this picture. She took these photos on the way back to the ship after our morning excursion, as I remember.

My Answers

Although I was a bit surprised nobody mentioned that the moon, as the subject of the first picture, was too centered, thus violating the rule of thirds, one member of my camera club did think the image confusing because she wasn’t sure what the subject was.  That was a completely valid point and was probably why Nancy had to be coaxed into taking that picture.    The overview shown above might be better in that respect, but here is why I (the technical support guy) found the image interesting:

The moon and the sun follow similar paths across the sky and the lighted part of the moon always points directly toward the sun along that path.  Every time I’ve ever seen the moon just above the horizon, it was pointing almost straight up (or down).  The moon in these two pictures is pointing to the left, a difference of almost 90° from my normal.

The mountains give almost no locational clue, but the snow at sea level tells you that we are not that close to the equator and the penguins tell us which hemisphere we are in (the specific species will narrow down the possible locations even further).  The angle of the moon does the best job, however, of narrowing the geographical possibilities – showing that we were close to the (Ant)arctic Circle.

To get the same effect with Photoshop wouldn’t be that hard, but would take more than just cropping.  And this effect doesn’t fall in the impossible range, like a star between the tips of a crescent moon, or maybe either type of eclipse during the quarter moon, so it is unlikely to be found in a unicorn shot or the like.  It is just a very unusual perspective that I wanted to appreciate for what it was and share with my friends.

By the way, this is the third article (set) I’ve published in the last three weeks involving the moon.  But fear not, I’m ready to move on.  Thank you for listening.