How to Level a Horizon in GIMP

Thursday, June 9, 2011  at 6:58 AM
Learn to straighten a crooked photograph!  Welcome to the sixth article in my Photography Editing in GIMP series.

Previous articles:
Article 1: Easy Photography Editing in GIMP
Article 2: How to Crop in GIMP
Article 3:  How to Control Saturation in GIMP
Article 4: How to Control Contrast and Lightness
Article 5: How to Change Color Photos into Black and White

These tutorials use the free photo-editing program GIMP.  I am not being paid to endorse the program GIMP--I just really like it!

Level a Horizon

You've all done it--you're traveling, you see something exciting, you snap a shot!  Then when you get home, you find that it is hopelessly crooked.  Here is an easy fix to photos that are not level.

 This tutorial will take your photos from this:
Thailand with Crooked Horizon by Danalynn C

to this:
Thailand Coast by Danalynn C

Step 1: Open the photo is GIMP.  Do not crop it yet.
Thailand Coast GIMP tutorial by Danalynn C

Step 2: See the sliding triangles along the rulers on the sides of the GIMP window?  In the image below, there is one in the left corner of the ruler along the top, and there is one around the 100 mark on the ruler on the left side.  Put your mouse over one of them, then drag to the center of the photo.  These will act as sight lines to help you line up your horizons so they end up straight.  Drag from the top or bottom to get a horizontal line, drag from the sides to get vertical lines.  I usually drag two, setting them above and below the current, crooked horizon line.

Thailand Coast GIMP tutorial by Danalynn C

Step 3: In the Toolbox, click the Rotate icon (you can see that I have clicked it in the image below).  Then, click on one of the corners of your photo and drag that corner around--it will rotate the entire photo around a central axis (the circle in the middle).  Rotate your picture so that the horizon line of the photo is level according to the sight lines you set up.  Click the Rotate button in the box that has popped up to apply the changes.

Thailand Coast GIMP tutorial by Danalynn C

Step 4: Now, the edges of your photo will not be square, so you will have to crop it.  You will lose some of the image along the sides, but this is a small sacrifice to have it level!  You can do any further cropping you want now as well.

Thailand Coast GIMP tutorial by Danalynn C

Step 5: Save your newly leveled photo!

Thailand Coast GIMP tutorial by Danalynn C
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