Using Diagonal Leading Lines in Your Composition

In composition, leading lines are used to draw the eyes of the viewer to a point of interest. Diagonal lines are often considered more dynamic compared to vertical or horizontal lines. If used successfully, diagonals can express some movement flowing in the frame. Another effect is they add a sense of perspective by providing depth to the image.

A diagonal leading line does not have to be literally a diagonal line bisecting the shot. It can be at least two or three subjects placed strategically from one corner to the opposite corner of the frame so that the line is more implied than obvious. It is not necessary for the line to be straight. Curves, zigzags and other similar patterns may be used as long as the compositional pattern still maintains its diagonal aspect.

However, be careful with placing too many lines since too much will detract from its impact and the image may end up looking cluttered. Also avoid other patterns that are strong and might clash with the diagonal. Instead, a tip would be to repeat the diagonal to strengthen its effect. In the photo of the table legs, you will notice that the wooden floor panels are at a diagonal. The table legs are positioned to enhance this diagonal. One is at the lower left corner and the others are at the opposite end. Also, the leg at the foreground appears bigger than the ones further away which adds a sense of depth.

When you look at your subject or scene, look for natural lines that can be included and see if a diagonal composition will work better than the usual horizontal or vertical positioning. Roads, bridges, fences and the like are commonly used to form diagonals. You will notice that they also convey perspective which makes the image appear three dimensional.

For the diagonal to appear natural, a good tip would be to position the line off-center instead of cutting the frame exactly at the corners. It also does not have to extend to both corners. In this second photo, the dog's tail stops short of the upper left corner. This gives the viewer's eyes space to move around the frame.

By using diagonal leading lines, you can affect how the viewer's eyes will travel across the photo. In doing so, you can make them focus exactly on where you want them to look.

This entry was posted on Saturday, July 3rd, 2010 at 11:00 am and is filed under Articles, Composition, Photography Techniques, Photography Tips. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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