Just as placing your subject on the ‘invisible’ thirds lines in your frame, the placement of the actual lines and curves in your photo can have a tremendous influence on how pleasing your picture is to look at. There are basically 5 kinds of lines, which you can emphasize individually or combine. Lines can be used to lead the eye to the point of interest and prevent the eye from wandering. They can put emphasis on distance or illustrate a relationship between foreground and background elements. Also, realize that using lines incorrectly can inadvertently lead the eye away from the point of interest.
The Five Kinds of Lines:
1. Vertical Lines can suggest dominance, strength and growth. Some examples include tall structures and trees.
It is best to try and keep vertical lines parallel with the sides of your photograph as much as possible. Vertical lines can cut an image in half if they are too close to the center of the frame. Keep the Rule of Thirds in mind, especially when dealing with one dominate vertical line.
2. Horizontal Lines can convey peace, calm and a sense of rest. Some prime examples include fallen trees, the ocean, beaches and horizons. Just like vertical lines, horizontal lines should be kept as horizontal as possible. Also like vertical lines, the Rule of Thirds should be taken into consideration when dealing with one prominent line. Layering horizontal lines can strengthen the composition and generate patterns and rhythm.
3. Diagonal Lines can indicate action, stimulation and depth. Diagonal lines can especially help draw the eye through a photo. To prevent the photo from looking split, try positioning your diagonal lines so they begin slightly above or below the corner of the photo on at least one side. Square plates, utensils and straws come in very handy for creating diagonal lines in food photography.
4. Curved Lines or S Curves provoke a sense of gracefulness, elegance and balanced serenity. S curves don’t necessarily need to be S-shaped; any form of a winding line can be used. Some excellent examples include winding rivers, paths, the curve of musical instruments, shapely glassware and even the human body.
5. Converging or Crossing Lines will add a certain depth and flow to your photographs. They also help add a sense of distance. Some prime examples of converging lines are power lines, stairways and the infamous railroad tracks or road disappearing into the distance. Our eyes are naturally drawn to where intersecting lines meet. For an even stronger impact, position your subject close to the converging lines. Unless the converging lines are the point of interest in and of itself. Then there is no need for additional subjects.
Grab those cameras and go take photos of some lines!