Leading Lines

Lines are capable of leading the viewer’s eye through the frame in different directions, usually either towards or away from a point of interest. Here’s our guide to photographing with leading lines.

Leading-Lines

Leading Lines

Lines are capable of leading the viewer’s eye through the frame in different directions, usually either towards or away from a point of interest. Here’s our guide to photographing with leading lines.

Leading lines is one method that depends upon utilising scenic surroundings in a format to literally lead the eye following a subject through the image. It can be an addition that takes an image to that meaningful next level.

Lines are capable of leading the viewer’s eye through the frame in different directions, usually either towards or away from a point of interest. When you open a novel, for example, your eye has been trained to read from left to right from top to bottom. Imagery is different as the eye will grab at certain contrasting areas, yet still follow and ‘read through’ the image.

Composition of leading lines should consider viewpoint as this may provide a ‘look down’ onto natural lines such as pathways that wouldn’t be seen from ground eye level. Arranging natural lines also requires consideration of where you wish to place emphasis in the frame, as a line can lead to a key subject. Multiple lines can provide a more complex effect that leads the eye back and forth, though complex compositions can become unpleasant to look at. Leading lines often lead from the bottom of an image, leading into the centre or key thirds.

Splitting a composition with leading lines can also have an unusual yet appealing effect. By dissecting one area from another, a line can have a significant impact. Central lines can act as divisions or pointers from one area of an image to another too.

Leading Lines – Examples

Patterns

Leading lines don’t strictly have to be single, defined lines. Shooting at the right angle on a pattern, for example, can create real drama in an image and draw the eye through the frame.

Leading-Lines-Fence

Placement

Don’t always concentrate on placing the leading lines in the conventional position. Introduce the line from off-centre, and have it exit the frame at a differing position.

Emphasis

With a low angle and close-up to a leading line, you can add real impact to a shot. While leading lines are a great tool to draw the eye through a frame, they can themselves be the focus of a shot.

Leading-Lines-Lights

Multiple

Don’t always concentrate on just a single leading line in a shot. Introducing more than one can create a real dynamism, though don’t overcomplicate things.

Shape

Remember, leading lines don’t have to be straight. A meandering stream or winding road creates a sense of harmony within the shot.

Leading-Lines-Path

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