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Photography Composition Techniques: Elements Of Design – Lines (With Examples)

Photography Composition Techniques: Elements of Design – Lines (With Examples)

Last week there was question from our blog reader asking for the application of Lines in photography to get the desired effect.

So, here is the article full of examples to emphasize on the application and the impact of line on a photograph.

If you have not yet read the previous article on the most important Element of Design – Lines, I recommend you to do so.

Horizontal Line Example

 

Nature Photography Simplified. Photography Composition Techniques - Elements of Design - Lines. Article and Photography by Prathap. Serene beach of Andaman Islands.

Serene beach of Andaman Islands

This photograph makes use of lines as important element of the composition. Horizontal line implies the serene and calm nature of the beach and the repeating horizontal lines adds some interest in the middle ground.

This photograph is not balanced well because both the background hill and the foreground rock are in the left hand side of the photograph. The brighter and empty space on the right balances it a bit but not quite well. If the background object or the foreground object was to the right hand side, the photograph would have been more balanced.

At the same time having a perfect balance might make it static. Therefore care should be taken to compose it well.

Vertical Line Example

Nature Photography Simplified. Photography Composition Techniques - Elements of Design - Lines. Article and Photography by Prathap.  Monkey perched on tree eating Jackfruit in Blue Ginger Resort, Wayanad, Kerala.

Monkey perched on tree eating Jackfruit.

Nature Photography Simplified. Photography Composition Techniques - Elements of Design - Lines. Article and Photography by Prathap.  Monkey perched on tree eating Jackfruit in Blue Ginger Resort, Wayanad, Kerala.

Monkey perched on tree eating Jackfruit.
(Vertical Composition)

Though both these photographs are about a Monkey eating Jackfruit, their impact on the viewer is completely different. Horizontal composition emphasizes more on the subject itself whereas the vertical composition emphasizes on the height of the tree and also makes you feel that the monkey is sitting way up on the tree.

Strong vertical line formed by the trunk of the tree gives us a guarantee that the Monkey on the horizontal branch will not fall.

Read more on Horizontal and Vertical Composition Technique and their impact on the resulting image.

Diagonal Line Example

 

Nature Photography Simplified. Photography Composition Techniques - Elements of Design - Lines. Article and Photography by Prathap.  Boardwalk to Lasalle Canyon in Starved Rock State Park, IL.

Boardwalk to Lasalle Canyon in Starved Rock State Park, IL.

The two trees that form a diagonal arc give a dynamic feel to this photograph.  Imagine this photograph without them. Wouldn’t it look like a normal photograph? Would it be as dynamic as it is now?

I have considered including the trees on the right to give a sense of balance to the photograph. If you don’t include it, then the photograph will have more visual weight on the left making it imbalanced.

Curved Line Example

Nature Photography Simplified. Photography Composition Techniques - Elements of Design - Lines. Article and Photography by Prathap.  Beautiful Motor Drive in Skyline Drive, Shenandoah National Park, West Virginia.

Beautiful Motor Drive in Skyline Drive, Shenandoah National Park, West Virginia.

This beautiful motor drive way in Skyline Drive is loaded with sweeping curves throughout its stretch. The line is curved but smooth giving the visual flow to this photograph. Your eye will follow the curve from bottom till the middle of the photograph with ease.

Nature Photography Simplified. Photography Composition Techniques - Elements of Design - Lines. Article and Photography by Prathap.  Sunrise in Indiana Dunes State Park.

Sunrise in Indiana Dunes State Park.

Though there are many sweeping curved lines in the photograph, there are lot of visual breaks.  Layers of curved lines add interest to the photograph, without which the foreground will be boring!

This photograph has a much different feel than the previous photograph of the motor drive.

Jagged Line Example

Nature Photography Simplified. Photography Composition Techniques - Elements of Design - Lines. Article and Photography by Prathap.  Beautiful Sunrise in Indiana Dunes State Park.

Beautiful Sunrise in Indiana Dunes State Park.

This photograph is full of drama both in foreground/middle ground and the background. The jagged lines formed by the incoming waves make it chaotic compared to the serene nature of the beach in first photograph.

There are horizontal lines, diagonal lines, curved lines, and jagged lines making it more complicated. If you look carefully at the waves and the formation of the lines, you will feel restless because they are not orderly!

Nature Photography Simplified. Photography Composition Techniques - Elements of Design - Lines. Luray Caverns of West Virginia. Article and Photography by Prathap.

Luray Caverns of West Virginia

To complicate the matters even more, I have included this photograph full of jagged lines.

It looks so chaotic and unbalanced to my eyes! How about you?

Balanced and Unbalanced Lines Example

 

Nature Photography Simplified. Photography Composition Techniques - Elements of Design - Lines. Article and Photography by Prathap.  Beautiful Road in Blue Ridge Parkway Motor Drive in West Virginia/North Carolina.

Beautiful Road in Blue Ridge Parkway Motor Drive in West Virginia/North Carolina.

The above photograph has leading line, depth, color, and contrast, but it is unbalanced.  Distant mountains are skewed and trees look like they are falling down.

Nature Photography Simplified. Photography Composition Techniques - Elements of Design - Lines. Article and Photography by Prathap.  Beautiful Road in Blue Ridge Parkway Motor Drive in West Virginia/North Carolina.

Beautiful Road in Blue Ridge Parkway Motor Drive in West Virginia/North Carolina.

Look at this very similar photograph taken few miles away from the first one. This is quite balanced.

Combining Lines

Nature Photography Simplified. Photography Composition Techniques - Elements of Design - Lines. Article and Photography by Prathap. A Boardwalk in a Forest Preserve in Chicago.

A Boardwalk in a Forest Preserve in Chicago.

The photograph is full of graphical elements especially the lines. There are horizontal lines, vertical lines, curved lines, and diagonal lines with all of them forming some kind of a repetitive pattern. I am also using the symmetry to make it more interesting and the leading lines to create depth.

Final Thoughts

I hope these examples give a fair idea of how you can make use of the Lines found in nature to make compelling photographs.

Next time when you are composing a photograph, remember to look for lines and their interactions with the other elements in the scene. The more you become aware of lines in the scene, better will be your photographs.

I would recommend you to read the articles Photography Composition Techniques – The Elements of Design and 5 Photography Composition Techniques to Improve Your Photography to appreciate the forthcoming articles.

Prathap

Prathap is a passionate nature photographer and founder of Nature Photography Simplified blog. He aims to simplify every photography concept to help beginners and amateur photographers. His FREE eBook "Bird Photography – 10 Mistakes and Solutions" has been instrumental in helping thousands of bird photographers. Download it right now to jumpstart your bird photography.

This Post Has 4 Comments
  1. Thank you for a most interesting article and examples.Always look forward to reading your articles. They are all stored on my computer and re-read from time to time.

  2. thanks sir, for the examples.. I got it… now I’ve to go out and try these techniques,,

    Thanks for the help & ya nice and helpful article. 🙂

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