Making a Great Photograph Using Lines

ISO 200, f4.5, 85mm, 1/1600s

When your trying to make lemonade out of lemons with your photography you may want to implement some lines for some interesting composition.  Photographers use it in all sorts of photography from portraits to landscapes.  You can use lines to lead a viewers eyes towards the most interesting parts of your photograph.  Be careful though, lines can lead a viewer deeper into a photograph but can also lead the viewers eyes away in a distracting fashion.

There are three types of lines you should consider while composing your photographs: Horizontal, Vertical, and Diagonal.  Vertical lines introduce emotion and mood to a photograph.  Power can be portrayed by tall buildings or trees while lines that come to a point introduce a more dramatic tone.  Horizontal lines can give a sense of continuity or rest (think horizons or a person at rest).  Diagonal lines can lead a viewers eyes through a photograph from interesting point to interesting point.  Also, diagonal lines can give a photograph more depth and perspective by leading viewers deeper into the photograph.

The photo above uses the trees to pull the viewers eyes towards the top where the tips of the trees look to meet (in reality the trees were well spaced but a wide-angle lens will make vertical lines converge).  The photo below uses the line of the Colorado River to draw the viewers eyes deeper into the photograph giving the viewer the sense of depth and perspective.

As with anything, you’re going to want to practice, practice, practice.  Next time your photographing landscapes look for a fence or other leading line to point towards something interesting like a barn, light house, or space ship.  Good luck!

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