What Are Leading Lines and How To Use Them in Your Photographs

February 16, 2018  •  Leave a Comment

Todays' blog is all about leading lines what they are and how to use them.

So what are they ? Leading lines are horizontal, diagonal or vertical lines that lead the viewers eye through the photograph.

A landscape photographer will often use a leading line to help create depth within a photo and draw the person viewing the photo into the image further.

In the images below I have used the lines of the wooden balustrade to lead the viewers eyes into the middle of the image where the majority of the boats and interest lie. The lines of the hills at each side of the image also all point  the viewer back into the middle of the photo to where the boats sit on the water.

The artist Henri Matisse once said "A line cannot exist alone;it always brings a companion along. Remember that one line does nothing; it is only in relation to another that it creates a volume."

Above the line of the reflection of the sun on the sea leads your eye up to the top section of the photo where the actual sunset is.

A leading line is as you can see - an actual line - it can be a coastline, where rock meets sea or sand meets sea, an actual road going off into the distance, a river trailing off, or footpath into some woods maybe, a row of trees in a park, or lines that cut through a harvested field, I'm sure you get the idea. It is a very simple principle, but a very effective one if used correctly.

There are several leading lines in the image above, they all lead you towards the door at the back of the image and then up towards the amazing ceiling in the passageway of the cathedral. The image below shows how a centrally placed tree lined river, with light shining right down the middle of it has multiple leading lines all leading you the same way through the image.

This image shows how effective lines are for taking the viewers eye through an image, if a line has a slight curve to it then it may slow down the viewer looking at the image, where as the  short leading line of the light on the river above takes you straight in to the centre of the photo. The upward motion of this leading line can be very dramatic, a lot more so than a horizontal leading line.

Multiple diagonal leading lines that converge at a vanishing point in an image are very effective, railway lines or a long road going off into the distance can be some of the strongest ways to show this, although the photo above goes off into the distance, it doesn't quite have a proper vanishing point.

We can discuss vanishing points in another Blog post, I hope this gives you some food for thought though, so next time you are out and about with your camera try and get some leading lines in the image, have a practice, think about where and how you are placing them, think about the rule of thirds too, does it matter where you put the lines within the image - will they stop in the middle? or a bottom or top third of the image ? So much to think about - mainly though I would just like you to enjoy having a go and using your camera and taking some "you" time out of your busy life.

If you would like to send me your images please do show me what you are up to, it's great to share.

More soon, Alex


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