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How to use Leading Lines to Improve Composition

Leading lines one of the useful tools you can have in your arsenal as a photographer. Some are obvious, some are implied. This article explains the distinction or interpretation of how to use lines and paths in your photography.

Mastering The Use Of Leading Lines Is A Fundamental Element Skill To Learn As A Photographer.

What are leading lines? Leading lines refer to a compositional tool in photography where the viewer's attention following lines or a path to the main subject of interest in your photo.

So why is it essential to use lines? It will help you to frame your subject or interest and lets your viewers take a journey to the focal point of the image.
Leading lines in photography create a strong visual impact, can add a sense of depth, and keep the viewer's eyes to follow the journey along the path. Lines are a great tool to help the viewers guide their focus where you want them to.

Read More about: Compositional Tool

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1. What is a leading line in photography

A line in photography? What is the definition of leading lines in photography? It is a line that creates a visual path towards something interesting. Naturally, the viewer's eyes drawn along lines.

A leading line creates a movement in a static stage.Lines help the viewer to focus on the vital part of the image. Lines are the simplest way to create interest and provide structure to a photo.
Photos with leading lines may show a path to a waterfall, a bridge across with a distant land, a hiking trail to the top of the mountain, or a row of trees, lampposts in fog. There are endless natural elements of lines, leading lines in nature.

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The railings created a strong line to follow in the image below.

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2. What is the distinction between leading lines and paths?

There is very little when referring to lines or paths in composition. If you want to be technical, leading lines will take you directly to the point of interest in the photograph. Versus "Path" takes you on a journey from the foreground to a vanishing point in the background.

I would say leading lines and paths are equally an essential element in the composition of photography.

There is no notable leading line but the man crossing a road and following the crosswalk gives you the impression of a leading line.

The Path LR Preset

3. How To Use A Structure As Lines?

Sometimes a structure full of lines lends itself as a critical element in the photograph.  
Gentle curves, soft shapes against strong silhouettes, or a sharp jagged line tells a different story and invokes mixed emotions.

The structure speaks for itself. Your eyes follow the curvature of lines and lands on the person snuggled at the bottom.

Image Courtesy of Eryka

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The railings created a strong leading line to follow in the image below.

Cool Fog LR Presets

4. How to use not so visible lines or paths?

Leading lines or paths don't have to be prominent but should suggest like a stunning sunset, a curve in the road or footsteps in the sand.

Image Courtesy of Kyle Cottrell

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5. How to find lines?

Finding lines, you may think it's hard. May want to try and find them in your home like your driveway pointing up to your house. Your plants in your garden, creating a path to follow.

The list below some examples you can find nearby and practice your composition.

  • Driveways
  • Streets
  • Fences
  • Lampposts
  • Creeks, Rivers
  • Train Tracks
  • Waterfalls
  • Implied Lines (Check below for details)
  • Trees
  • Sunsets
  • Sunrays
  • Cloud Formations
  • Hallways
  • Rows of Objects
  • Footprints

And the list goes on. Use your imagination, find patterns, shapes to draw your viewer's eye to the object of your photograph.
Once you look for them often enough, you will see them everywhere. It will become natural to use leading lines in your composition to enhance your photographs and become a better photographer.

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6. What are the types of leading lines and what is the difference?

There are unlimited types of leading lines that will invoke moods and emotions to your viewers. Capturing an emotion or a sense of feeling is part of a good photograph.

Horizontal Lines

What is a horizontal line? A horizontal line is mostly a straight line that runs from one side of the image to another. Most commonly refers to the horizon between land and sky. A horizontal line is also a compositional tool widely used in photography.

Horizontal lines in a pattern can create a movement and often a dividing effect between foreground and background.

The image below is all about the horizontal line. Your eyes travel from one side to the other of the photo, following the apparent horizon.

Horizon LR preset

Vertical Lines

Vertical lines can give visual strength and importance to your subject. The width or the colors of the vertical lines lends to strength and stability; yes, the thinner lines could feel more vulnerable.

Why vertical line mostly used for portraits?
The Obvious choice is to use a vertical line for portraits, so your viewers' eyes follow the entire photo's length. An object may appear more prominent, more dominant, and more apparent.

Of course, there will be examples when a horizontal line is more pleasing for the eye when the subject is also appears in a horizontal position.

Tips for using vertical lines
Keep your camera level.
Zoom in a little closer use telephoto lens, not a wide-angle lens.
Keep your vertical lines parallel to the frame
Use the rule of third when positioning your subject against vertical lines.

Look for a strong pattern of vertical lines
Perspective, create depth using Fstop, and zoom option of your lens. Longer focal length makes objects appear further away and closer to the foreground.

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The vertical lines are powering above the small horizontal bench, creating a feeling of small and insignificant, yet your eyes are drawn to it.

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The intersection of lines

When horizontal, vertical and diagonal lines intersect, it makes the viewer pause, which adds tension to the image. The crossing of lines can be beneficial and a barrier to see the focal point of the picture.
 
When accurately used in a composition, you can create an added tension or an element of confusion.

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Indirect or implied lines

These implied lines are made up of other factors, like following the human eye, a hand pointing to a direction or a flying flock birds.
There is no leading line in the image below, but the flock of flying birds implying the direction they are heading.

B&W Fly Away LR Preset

diagonal lines

Another fantastic option is using diagonal lines when you want to create a sense of motion or changing direction. These lines mostly appear to start from the foreground and end somewhere in the background.

The image on the right leads your eyes up the stairs, can't help but follow the curvy staircase's diagonal line.
On the other hand, the image below suggests a more cryptic path that leads you to deep in the forest.

Green Leafage LR Preset
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curved lines

Curved lines would feel more natural as you find it most landscapes. Curved lined can be used to highlight a specific area in your photo.

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converging or melding lines

When lines meet, our eyes focus on the converging point. It would be a perfect opportunity to place your subject.

Seaside LR Preset

conclusion

Look for lines around you and embrace the pattern you may see created by these lines.

Just remember, leading lines always point to a subject or interest in the frame. If your lines are steering you nowhere or out of the frame, your viewers might lose interest.

We hope you've learned as much from this article that it will help you in your journey to becoming a more seasoned photographer.

We, at Beyond Snapshot Photography, thank you for your time to visit our blog and least but not last we encourage you to check out other blogs on photography tips and helpful hints.

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