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  • Writer's pictureWarehouse Media

Leading Lines - The eye catcher

Leading lines. One of the best tools of composition we as photographers can use to draw the viewers eyes to particular parts of the image, make the viewer realise the images depth or lead them in a particular direction. Ultimately, a leading line is something in the image which can enhance our composition, but what makes a leading line?

Well... essentially anything can. Kerbs, pavements, shorelines, bushes etc. are all examples of physical leading lines, but we can even have inferred leading lines, such as someones gaze in a photo will likely lead us as viewers to follow them.

But why should we use them? Its not always necessary, thats a given, you may find the perfect line but if it leads to nothing or directs away from what you want to shoot then avoid it, however, if you can create a leading line or find one which directs, displays or enhances the image. Go for it, and they can do so in various different ways.

For starters, leading lines can be used as directional tools, the simplest way of describing this is, well to show you. Below is a picture took in Toronto, theres a few leading lines in here but the most prominent one is the road marking, pointing you straight to the clock tower which is my subject, but similarly the horizontal lines on the buildings, both those following the road and the very roof of the clocktower building all point to the subject, really enhancing its standing.

If we stick with the example above, we can also see how lines can be used to change the mood of a photo. everything points to the clocktower, or, is symmetrical with it, the vertical lines down the building give this a tall foreboding feel, mixed with the colour and your eyes being drawn to the clocktower it makes it feel big and almost like an over watcher. But the use of both horizontal and vertical lines give this some dynamism, also, using the same image we can see how the lines provide depth. We all know the yellow mark is a street marking, however, it gives real depth the road, and makes the viewer understand the size of the tower.

So, you've now found your lines, you have your shot, its time to look at your settings. Depending on the image, you're more than likely wanting to have a higher F (aperture) otherwise a blurry background or super blurry foreground could make the lines lose their impact, and thats the last thing we want (however, below we wanted my subject to be the rope and have the lines show depth, hens the low F ;) ). Again, image dependent, but mostly if you're outside we would recommend a wider angle lens, using the image below as an example. 25mm was used for this shot, and this exaggerates the length of the lines and makes them more prominent.

Finally I'd add that if your camera has grid lines or the option of, use them, it will let you compose your shot more and align the leading lines in your shot as you want them!

So now over to you!

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