10,000/365 Day 8: Lines

I’m a day behind on writing, but still on time with the shooting… which, I suppose, is better than the other way ’round. Anyway, today — by which I mean yesterday — it’s all about lines.

Power Lines
Power Lines

Strong lines in a photo serve a few purposes, but one of the most important is to lead your eye through the photo, or to emphasize a certain portion of it. Paying attention to the kinds of lines you have in your photo, and where they lead the eye, leads to stronger compositions.

Too many lines (as in the shot of the power lines) just create confusion and disorientation. The sidewalk shot that’s featured here, while it’s visually “busy,” features the strong curve of the bricks against the straighter linear jumble of the concrete (and the color contrast also helps). So pay attention to how the lines “work,” or don’t, in your photos. We’ll get to the color, and quite a bit else, in the days ahead.

Strong verticals and diagonals (among other things) lead your eyes upward.
Strong verticals and diagonals (among other things) lead your eyes upward.

Stepping away from photography for a minute, let me give you an example. Think for a minute about church architecture. If you stop to think about it, regardless of what they might share in common in terms of iconography, church buildings all share one feature in common, whether the rest of the building looks like a saltbox or Saint Patrick’s Cathedral: for the most part — inside and out — they feature strong diagonals and other architectural features (like buttresses) that, in addition to any architectural functionality they have, serve to lead your eyes up.

We can do the same thing with our photos; lines are one way of delineating the geometry of a photo, but they also act like railroad tracks, or steeples: done right, they lead our eyes through the photo, adding emphasis to some parts and de-emphasizing others. Just the same as we try to avoid extraneous “stuff” in our photos (like telephone poles sticking out of people’s heads), extraneous lines — too many of ’em, or in the wrong places — can undermine an otherwise good photographic composition.


Keep up with the project, share your progress, feedback and questions:
Project page (where you’ll also find a FAQ and other goodies)
The entries day-by-day (the blog entries)
10,000/365 Flickr Group (to share and discuss your shots)

10000365 08 Lines

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