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Use Line Intentionally

One of the most powerful, but often underestimated elements of all art, (including photography) is the line. Line is all around us, and we see it and use it every day. It can create strong perspective and direct attention, and it can simply create visual interest.

This image of the log fence has several different uses of line. There are the vertical lines of the fenceposts, as well as the converging diagonal lines of the other logs in the fence. The lines "lead" the eye to other parts of the image, and maintains visual interest.

Line doesn't always have to be straight and well-defined. I took this photo on the Oregon coast during a family vacation in the fall of 2007. To me, the curved lines in the sand, coupled with the diagonal angle of the image, almost creates a feeling of motion. I wanted to try to take a photo that would help me really remember the way that the ocean moved up along the shore, and back again.

In this image, the candle itself obviously creates a line that directs the viewer's attention not only to the flame at the top, but also to the dish at the bottom. Perhaps not as obvious as the candle itself are the spiral lines in the candle. The smaller spiral lines also help to direct the viewer's attention and maintain visual interest.

This image was taken in Washington (part of the same family vacation as the Oregon coast photo), and I love the way that the horizontal curved line "works" with the variety of vertical lines that lead up to it. Watch for converging lines - they are also everywhere, and can create strong images.

Finally, railroad tracks are a wonderful place to find lines with great variety and character. The spaces between the railroad ties create vertical lines, the metal beam beneath the ties creates a strong diagonal line, and the metal beams beneath that create a horizontal line.
So, next time you are out shooting, and you want to find something interesting to photograph, look for lines. Remember these few things:
  • Watch for all sorts of lines - they can be horizontal, vertical, diagonal, or they can be curved.
  • Lines that intersect or converge can create powerful images. Try placing a main subject at a point of intersection of converging lines.
  • Be aware of lines within lines, as with the photo of the candle. Using a combination of lines in the same photo can make it a stronger composition.

3 comments:

Cindy said...

Great information!

Sus said...

Stunning photos, as usual. I love reading your tips and trying to repeat them when I take a photo

Staci B said...

Great info. Good reminder as we head out for our vacation.