Throw Me A Line

One of the compositional elements I always enjoy is the use of lines.  This another simple compositional concept you can employ to improve your photography.  You can use lines to lead your viewer to the subject in your photo because the brain will naturally follow them. Harvest time in the vinyard.

The lines don't have to all point in the same direction.  You can even use them as a framing device for your subject.


[Geek note:  Did you know the golden rule of composition Mark talked about in the last blog is based on the Fibonacci sequence?  This sequence is found throughout nature, like the seeds in this sunflower.]

sunflower close up

And, we're back.

Diagonal and converging lines are the most compelling and dynamic for your viewer.  The lines don't even have to be straight to perform their magic.  In this photo, I have the base lines converging and pointing to the batter, who is in a box (more lines), with a curved line encircling home plate.

Baseball at Nat stadium

We can go even deeper if you want.  The catcher and umpire form a line pointing to the batter, who is holding a bat (a line).  Even the blur of the ball directs you to the batter.  Sometimes the scene isn't the least bit subtle.

The lines don't have to be as obvious as these examples.  The kayaker in this shot is surrounded by the white lines of splash from the rapids.  The line of the rock behind her echoes the angle of her paddle.  Her arms and the kayak form a nice triangle.

Kayaking on the Nantahala River, in North Carolina

So, the next time you are trying to compose a photograph, instead of shooting a snapshot, slow down and take a breath.  Look for some lines in your scene.  Try to incorporate them in the most pleasing way to enhance your photo and lead your viewer to the subject.  When you are studying the iconic images of the great artists and photographers you admire, look for lines in their work; they are in there.  If you think about your composition before you push the shutter, you'll be much happier with your results.

The Vietnam Memorial in Washington, D.C.