Photography: Leading Lines

(All photos are my own)

LEADING LINES GUIDE THE EYE TO A SPECIFIC POINT, OR OBJECT, IN A PHOTO. THERE ARE MANY INTERESTING WAYS TO UTILIZE LINES. THE MOST WELL KNOWN EXAMPLE OF THIS, IN MY OPINION, IS A SET OF RAILROAD TRACKS LEADING STRAIGHT AHEAD TO A VANISHING POINT. BELOW ARE TWO EXAMPLES OF VANISHING POINT. THIS TECHNIQUE GIVES THE FEELING YOU ARE STANDING IN THE PHOTO LOOKING AHEAD. THE PATHS GUIDE YOUR EYE DEEPER INTO THE PHOTO.

Version 2

     (PHOTO TAKEN IN MALTA, EUROPE)

THE PHOTO OF A MALTESE KAROZZIN (PRONOUNCED CARE-O-SEEN) LURES THE EYE TO THE CURVE AT THE END OF THE STREET, CREATING INTEREST IN WONDERING WHAT’S AROUND THE CORNER.DSC_0313

(PHOTO TAKEN IN CUMBRIA, ENGLAND)

THE LONG PATH ALONG CAT BELLS FELL VANISHES AT THE PEAK. IN THIS PHOTO AND THE PHOTO OF THE KAROZZIN, THE LINES ARE LEADING TO A POINT, NOT A SUBJECT. A STRONGER USE OF LEADING LINES WOULD GUIDE THE EYE TO A SUBJECT OF INTEREST, AS SEEN IN THE PHOTOS BELOW.

Version 2

(PHOTO TAKEN IN COTSWOLDS, ENGLAND)

IN THE COTTAGE PHOTO, ALL LINES IN THE LOWER HALF ARE GUIDING THE EYE UPWARD TO THE GREEN GATE AND THE COTTAGE BEYOND. THESE LINES INCLUDE THE MAIN PATH, THE GREEN GRASS LINES AND THE STONE WALLS. MULTIPLE LINES CAN CONFUSE THE EYE, BUT IN THIS CASE, THEY ARE ALL LEADING TO A CENTRAL POINT.

Honeymoon 276

         (PHOTO TAKEN IN MONTREUX, SWITZERLAND)

THE PHOTO OF THE SNOW LINED VINEYARD IS A MORE STRAIGHTFORWARD EXAMPLE OF LEADING LINES. THE STRONG CONTRAST OF DARK AND LIGHT LINES DRAW THE EYE TO THE BASE OF THE CHURCH, WHICH THEN GUIDES THE EYE TO THE STEEPLE. IN THIS PHOTO AND THE COTTAGE PHOTO, THE EYE IS TRAVELING UP AND DOWN. YOU CAN USE LEADING LINES TO GUIDE THE EYE HORIZONTALLY AS WELL, AS SEEN IN THE NEXT PHOTO.

Honeymoon 132

(PHOTO TAKEN IN MONTREUX, SWITZERLAND)

THIS IS NOT THE MOST WELL KNOWN ANGLE OF CHATEAU DE CHILLON. BUT, AS I WALKED THE PATH BEHIND THE CASTLE, THIS COMPOSITION CAUGHT MY EYE. THERE ARE SEVERAL LINES LEADING TO THE STRIKING STONE STRUCTURE: THE SNOW PACKED BUSH IN THE FOREGROUND, THE WATER LINE JUST ABOVE IT, AND THE MOUNTAINS EXTENDING BEHIND THE CASTLE. THESE HORIZONTAL LINES SANDWICH CHILLON, MAKING IT THE HIGHLIGHT OF THE PHOTO. THE MOUNTAIN LINE EVEN EXTENDS UPWARD IN JUST THE RIGHT PLACE TO GUIDE THE EYE ALONG THE STEP-LIKE STONE OUTCROPS,  WHICH IN TURN, LEAD THE EYE TO THE TURRETS AND CHIMNEYS.

Honeymoon 645

(PHOTO TAKEN IN ZERMATT, SWITZERLAND)

THE LEADING LINES IN THIS PHOTO CROSS THE FRAME DIAGONALLY. BOTH THE WOODEN FENCE LINE AND IT’S SHADOW ARE GUIDING THE EYE TO THE FANCIFULLY DRESSED HORSE AND SLEIGH.

THE NEXT TWO PHOTOS ARE EXAMPLES OF USING EXISTING CURVED LINES TO DRAW A PATH TO THE MAIN SUBJECT.

England, Malta 2011 342

DSC_0061

(PHOTOS TAKEN IN CUMBRIA, ENGLAND)

I WAS USING THE STONE WALLS TO GUIDE THE EYE TO SOMETHING UNUSUAL: A TREE WITH A GAPING HOLE LARGE ENOUGH TO HOUSE A SMALL ANIMAL, AND A TRULY TINY BRIDGE HOUSE THAT IS SAID TO HAVE ONCE HOUSED A FAMILY OF EIGHT (THE FULL, FASCINATING STORY OF THIS HOUSE IS ON THE VISIT CUMBRIA WEBSITE: http://www.visitcumbria.com/amb/bridge-house/).

ON YOUR NEXT PHOTOGRAPHY ADVENTURE, LOOK FOR EXISTING LINES THAT CREATE A PATH TO YOUR SUBJECT. I LIKE TO EXPERIMENT WITH DIFFERENT ANGLES AND TAKE NUMEROUS PHOTOS OF THE SAME SCENE / SUBJECT. I USUALLY TAKE 5 – 10 PHOTOS OF THE SAME SUBJECT. IT HELPS TO GET THAT ONE GREAT SHOT.

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