Leading Lines: Easiest Photography Composition Technique for Landscape Photography

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Leading Line combined with Rule of Thirds Photography Composition Technique. Upper Peninsula. Autumn Road to Lake of Clouds.

Road to Lake of Clouds during Autumn Porcupine Mountains Wilderness Park, Upper Peninsula, Michigan.
Leading Line Composition technique combined with Rule of Thirds can yield some of the most compelling landscape photographs

Leading line composition technique is the easiest to understand and apply in Landscape photography.

In fact, we compose some of the photographs using leading line composition technique unknowingly!

You would have done that too…It comes to us naturally. Let me make you believe it using an example.

Imagine you are driving through a forest and you see beautiful line of trees on either side of the road. The autumn leaves are so breathtakingly colorful that you couldn’t help but to pull your car to a side.

You want to capture that beautiful moment in your camera.

Now…how would you photograph it?

Would you stand parallel to the road and just take trees on one side of the road or would you consider taking photograph with both side of the road?

Invariably, you would consider including both side of the road. Isn’t it?

Which means, the road is in the middle of the image frame running from a near foreground to the far background.

You know what composition technique you just used? I see a smile there 🙂

Leading Line

Leading line is a line that leads you from one point to the other point. Our eyes follow the line strictly from one point to the other point without our consciousness.

This very nature of ours is exploited in photography by composing a photograph to use leading lines. This way we can force the viewer to look at the image from one point (usually foreground) to another point (usually background).

It is one of the most simple and powerful composition technique that is used in landscape photography. Landscape photographers always look for leading lines in the nature to create a sense of depth in the image and also to lead the viewer to the main subject of interest.

Some of the important aspects of leading line composition technique are:

  1. Leads the viewer into the photograph
  2. Leads the viewer from one part of the photograph to the other
  3. Leads the viewer to the main subject of interest
  4. Brings depth in the photograph

You can make most compelling landscape photographs by combining leading line composition technique with Rule of Thirds.

Below are some of the examples which uses leading line photography technique combined with Rule of Thirds technique.

Using Board Walks as Leading Lines

Leading Line combined with Rule of Thirds Photography Composition Technique. Board walk to Manabezho and Manido falls in Porcupine Mountains Wilderness Park, Upper Peninsula, Michigan.

Board walk to Manabezho and Manido falls in Porcupine Mountains Wilderness Park, Upper Peninsula, Michigan.
I have used board walk as leading line to create the sense of depth in the photograph. Also, it leads the viewer from the immediate foreground through the forest to the background.

 

Leading Line combined with Rule of Thirds Photography Composition Technique. Board walk in Lake of Clouds in Porcupine Mountains Wilderness Park, Upper Peninsula, Michigan.

Board walk in Lake of Clouds in Porcupine Mountains Wilderness Park, Upper Peninsula, Michigan.
I have used board walk as leading line to create the sense of depth in the photograph. Also, it leads the viewer from the immediate foreground through the autumn trees to the background.

Using Formations as Leading Lines

Leading Line combined with Rule of Thirds Photography Composition Technique. Indiana Sand Dunes beach.

Indiana Sand Dunes beach.
I have used natural formations in sand dunes to serve as leading lines. It also has repeating patterns of lines that makes the composition stronger giving a graphic design

Using Roads as Leading Lines

Leading Line combined with Rule of Thirds Photography Composition Technique. Winding Road in Blue Ridge Parkway, West Virginia.

Winding Road in Blue Ridge Parkway, West Virginia.
Using roads as leading line is my favorite composition technique. The black or grayish tone of the road gives much needed contrast to the colorful trees. Also, the yellow or white markings adds the drama adding more contrast to the grayish road. The sweeping or winding roads like the one in the photograph makes the photograph much more interesting. It is indeed S-curve composition :)

Using Forest Paths as Leading Lines

Leading Line combined with Rule of Thirds Photography Composition Technique. Beautiful Bond Falls Framed In Natural Settings.

Beautiful Bond Falls Framed in Natural Settings. Upper Peninsula, Michigan.
Forest path acting as a leading line leads the viewer in to the main subject of interest (Bond falls). Nearby trees acts as a natural frame to the photograph and the colorful autumn leaves adds the drama

Leading Line combined with Rule of Thirds Photography Composition Technique. Row of trees in Matthiessen State Park, IL

Row of trees in Matthiessen State Park in Illinois.
One of the easiest ways to make compelling tree photographs is to use leading line and rule of thirds. Make use of path as leading line to lead the viewer through the forest and keep the horizon in the below thirds to give most of the space to trees

Using Shorelines as Leading Lines

Leading Line combined with Rule of Thirds Photography Composition Technique. Sunrise in Lake Superior, Upper Peninsula, Michigan.

Breathtaking Sunrise in Lake Superior, Upper Peninsula, Michigan.
Using shorelines as leading lines is absolutely essential to lead the viewer in to the main subject of interest which is most of the times Sunrise or Sunset. If you miss out to create the depth, photograph will look very flat.
Combining this with rule of thirds to keep the horizon at bottom or top thirds will give you amazing results

 

Leading Line combined with Rule of Thirds Photography Composition Technique. Indiana Dunes Shore line

Indiana Dunes Shore line, Indian Dunes State Park.
This is a very typical photograph of a beach. Using pebbles in the beach and the shoreline as leading line I have created the immense depth in the photograph. I have kept the horizon at the top third line to give enough emphasis on the beach

Conclusion

Leading line photographic composition is the most natural technique that is very powerful. If combined with Rule of Thirds, you can make some of the most compelling photographs.

It is by far the easiest method to create a 3-dimensional effect in a 2-dimensional photograph. This is especially useful in landscape photography since we want to force the viewer to scan the photograph from foreground till the background.

Embrace it now and enjoy your photography forever.

Leading Line combined with Rule of Thirds Photography Composition Technique. Sunset at Lake Superior in Upper Peninsula, Michigan.

Sunset at Lake Superior in Upper Peninsula, Michigan

Don’t forget to tell me if you like learn-by-examples technique. I generally prefer to learn it by looking at photographs and studying those photographs as well.

Do let me know by putting few words in the comments.

PS: If you feel that it is an useful article, then share it with your beloved ones

Love grows by Sharing, so does this blog!

PPS: “I know what I have given you… I do not know what you have received.” ― Antonio Porchia

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33 Responses to Leading Lines: Easiest Photography Composition Technique for Landscape Photography

  1. bernadette sivertsen February 16, 2014 at 11:50 pm #

    Gorgeous photo’s! I appreciate your
    generous sharing of your fine talent.
    A friend photographer forwarded your
    message to me as I am new to this
    captivating hobby.
    Looking forward to more of your emails.
    bernadettesivertsen@icloud.com

    PS: I tried to down load above data but
    It said my email address was invalid.
    Please assist be in getting me this data.
    Bernadette

    • Prathap February 17, 2014 at 9:14 pm #

      Thanks a lot for your encouraging comment Bernadette. I am glad to see some of my blog readers referring to their friends.
      Sorry about the fact that you are unable to subscribe to the blog with your mail id. I will help you out on this. I will send out the details to your mail.

      • Jimmy May 21, 2017 at 11:05 am #

        Hmm it seems like your site ate my first comment (it was super long) so I guess I&;1782#ll just sum it up what I had written and say, I’m thoroughly enjoying your blog. I too am an aspiring blog blogger but I’m still new to the whole thing. Do you have any points for newbie blog writers? I’d certainly appreciate it.

    • raut suresh September 6, 2015 at 7:10 pm #

      I read ur most of the artical they well simplifed and proper example thans. let me wish u happy teachers day wishs u healthy, wealthy, peasesfull life to u and ur family. may god bless u and ur family.

      • Prathap September 8, 2015 at 3:27 pm #

        Thank you so much for the wishes! Raut Suresh.

  2. Vadiraj Rao February 27, 2014 at 10:05 am #

    Wonderful compositions,i have sony slt57 and honing my skills in macro as well as nature photography.It is worth taking the advice and learn from u.

    Thankyou for the content.

    Vadiraj

    • Prathap March 4, 2014 at 12:04 am #

      It’s an honor to hear such wonderful comments Vadiraj. I hope I can live upto your expectations.

  3. Kent Costin February 27, 2014 at 10:12 am #

    Thanks for article. Your examples are perfect. I, too, learn from looking at photos. Your examples were spot on. I also love your article on bird photography at DPS. Fabulous pictures and advice. Thanks again! Kent

    • Prathap March 4, 2014 at 12:01 am #

      Thanks a lot for these encouraging words Kent. Learning from other photographers is really very helpful since we interact directly with the photograph than the photographer 🙂 We have our own interpretation of a photograph which yields to a greater insight.

  4. Jorge March 16, 2014 at 5:39 am #

    Very useful article, i am sure we will improve our pictures with your examples

    • Prathap March 20, 2014 at 8:59 pm #

      Thanks a lot! Gorge

  5. jewel capazorio April 20, 2014 at 8:46 am #

    I really found this very easy to understand and like the idea of seeing the pictures with the teaching. Very nice thank you.

    • Prathap April 27, 2014 at 12:24 am #

      Thanks a lot! Jewel. I would love to explain the concepts with pictures.

  6. Yogesh December 3, 2014 at 7:21 am #

    I stand nowhere in the line of photographers …but I love photography and explore the new angles…every photo tells a story…your this article, as usual, is very useful and illustrative…Yogesh

    • Prathap December 3, 2014 at 7:51 am #

      Thank you so much for your kind words Yogesh. I think your mindset about photography is really good. Everyone is a photographer…so are you! We use natural camera (brain) and the eyes (lens) to see the world (scene/photograph) from ages 🙂

  7. Sudakshina February 26, 2015 at 9:45 am #

    lovely pics beautifully explained.. I am new into photography a complete Ameture but love your work.. Keep going and inspiring Ppl like us

    • Prathap February 26, 2015 at 9:03 pm #

      Thank you so much for your kind words, Sudakshina.

  8. Hitesh February 27, 2015 at 3:45 am #

    Hi Prasad …. photography has been my hobby and of recently i have started reading various articles from various pro photographers. Your articles are very simple to understand.
    I still don’t own a dslr of my own and keep using my friends cam.
    However, now I would like to buy one for myself. Pls advise which out of Canon & Nikon, produces vibrant colours in landscape photography.
    Would like to read from your blog…..thanks a ton and do keep sharing to help ppl like us learn this art.

    • Prathap February 28, 2015 at 3:31 am #

      Hi Hitesh, Thank you so much.
      Buying a DSLR depends primarily on the budget you have. There are so many DSLRs coming out in the market that I lost track. My suggestion to you is, do some preliminary research (keeping your budget in mind) to narrow down your choices to just 2 or 3 DSLRs. Later drop me a mail, I will help you to decide.
      Remember that you would need a good quality lens to produce sharp and good color images. Most of your budget should be considered for buying best quality lens.

  9. Taher March 17, 2015 at 12:22 am #

    Thanks a lot for this article.

  10. surez July 16, 2015 at 12:09 am #

    Hello Prathap,

    Yesterday only I lucky to see your website through google search by key word “Nikon DSLR”.., I am keep on reading and continuing it.., Really amazing articles and in-depth subject and easy way of explanation.

    I am 40+ and I have a passion towards Photography when I was 22 year old.., but not able to get into it even though I have the passion. But slowly I am into it.
    I have Nikon Coolpix S9700 and iphone 6+.., and I am taking photographs using some composition method without knowing it actually. Now after reading your articles, I am happy that I know some basics.
    As you said I am going to focus more on the photographic techniques and applying it practically. Not going to spend money and time on instruments.

    I should have watched your website earlier.

    Thanks,

    surez

    • Prathap July 16, 2015 at 11:39 am #

      Hi Surez, I am so glad to have you as our reader. Thank you so much for your kind words. Much appreciated!
      Congratulations! on pursuing your passion. It’s better to be late than never. I think you have the best cameras to work with. I am truly impressed with iPhone 6+ and its camera capabilities. I hope you have read my article about using mobile cameras to enhance your photographic skills. If not, here it is: http://www.naturephotographysimplified.com/tips-and-tutorials/which-camera-is-best-mobile-photography/.
      I wish you great photography journey!

      • Surez July 16, 2015 at 7:42 pm #

        Hi Prathap,

        Yes, I already gone through your article on using mobile phone for photography. Thanks.

        Surez

        • Prathap July 16, 2015 at 9:12 pm #

          That’s great! Surez.

  11. surez July 16, 2015 at 12:23 am #

    Hello Prathap,

    Please include my email for future correspondence,

    Thanks,

    surez

    • Prathap July 16, 2015 at 11:34 am #

      Hi Surez, you have already subscribed to my mailing list. So, you should be getting all the updates. Welcome aboard!

  12. Ron July 20, 2015 at 9:20 pm #

    Hi Prathap. It is encouraging to see new photographers joining our ranks. Keep with it you guys and look at lots of photos, work out how they were taken and use them for inspiration. When I stop to take a photo, I look for leading lines, they are not always there but sometimes all falls into place and the photo is much improved because of them. Take care all and enjoy photography to its fullest.

    • Prathap July 22, 2015 at 3:33 pm #

      Thank you for a very encouraging comment, Ron. It’s a fantastic advise for all of us.

  13. suresh raut August 21, 2015 at 12:04 am #

    I had read ur amost of the artical they simpal to understand and to the point.Or most of the arrival are good ,simpal,and knowlegable.keep. educating us.

    • Prathap August 21, 2015 at 9:36 am #

      Thank you so much! Suresh.

  14. Bhuboy March 15, 2017 at 4:41 pm #

    I totally agree, I only read about this today, but have been using it unknowingly. Thanks for this.

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