Lines are an important element in composition and this week we are going to focus on a subset of lines called “leading lines”. I’m sure that most if not all of you are familiar with the concept, so this week I want to explore why leading lines are such an important compositional tool and how they can be used for greatest impact.
Leading lines can create a sense of depth in the photo by connecting the foreground with the background, e.g. a landscape photo with a road or path that leads the eye through the landscape. If the path didn’t exist in the photo below, the eye would be stopped by the grass in the foreground and very likely would not travel much further than that.
Sometimes leading lines lead the eye through the background to an infinity point. This can add a sense of mystery to your photo, or even a sense of adventure into the great unknown. The path in the photo below seems to go on and on; you’re not sure where it leads, but it draws you in anyways.
Leading lines can also be used to lead the eye to the subject of your photo. This makes strong compositions for portraits or any photo with a clear subject. For greatest effect, place the subject where the lines intersect. This brings the eye right to the subject and emphasizes its importance – so much so that the subject can often be quite small in the frame and yet it still carries the image.
Not all leading lines are obvious. Feel free to be creative in your interpretation of leading lines. Consider bridges, railings, items in a row, waves, rocks, clouds, sun beams, etc. In the photo below, there are no distinct leading lines and yet the endless buildings on the sides as well as the repeating throngs of people and cars on the pavement lead the eye into infinity.
The important thing to ask yourself when you have leading lines in your composition is: “Where are the lines leading?” If you don’t know the answer to that question, then your leading lines are likely not effective or may even be harming your composition by leading the eye out of the frame. The following photo is one that I took very soon after I started participating in the photo challenge. I was lucky enough to have someone comment that the leading line of the fence took the viewer’s eye away from the main subject (the building) and out of the frame. I didn’t notice it when I captured the image, but now I can’t unsee it.
If you are interested in more information on leading lines, I found the following links helpful as I researched this challenge:
This week’s challenge:
- Take a photo using leading lines to enhance the composition.
- Your final image should be a B&W grayscale image. You can come to that image any way that you would like from capturing B&W in camera to converting in post-processing.
- Don’t forget about proper exposure, contrast and composition which are especially important in a B&W image.
The friendly community guidelines are pretty simple:
- Post one original photograph (Your Image) shot each week per theme posted on this blog to our active community on our Facebook Group, Flickr Groupor 500PX group (or all three). Tag the photo: #10thanniversaryphotochallenge #2018photochallenge #photochallenge #tempusaura
- The shot should be a new shot you took for the current weekly theme, not something from your back catalog or someone else’s image.
- Don’t leave home without your camera. Participating in the 2018 Trevor Carpenter Photo Challenge is fun and easy.
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