Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Composition- Lines and Angles

You've probably seen a picture of a winding path or road leading to a distant house. The photographer, if the elements were right, put mountains or hills in the background with a "V" just behind the house. Your eye follows the path to the house without you even realizing it. As your eye quickly surveys the scene it seems to eventually return to the house. This is the power of leading lines.
The winding path is called a leading line because it leads you to the house. So are the lines of the edge of the mountains (each side of the V) because your eye will follow these lines back to the house.
On a more artistic note (don't get me wrong, use of lines to lead the persons eye to the main subject can be artistic) lines and angles can be repeated in a picture to form a pattern. Ever see an image of trees with their shadows parallel which lead toward the trees at an angle (the picture was taken in the morning or evening to utilize the best light). Well, this type of image uses both repeating lines and angles. The repeating lines are not only the shadows that align along the ground but also the parallel trees. In addition, the angles formed by the shadows and trees meeting are also parallel and repeating. Note that the photographer has usually chosen a group of trees that are nearly parallel and equal distances apart. These types of stands form the parallel lines and angles that are evenly spaced.
There are other creative, individualistic uses of lines and angles to make a picture look interesting. Take a good, long look at this picture and decide what you see. Look at it a number of ways and try to see if it has different subjects. Then I'll tell you what I see.

I see several things in this photo. One is the classical answer- tree roots and their reflection in the water. I also see a small fish that is nearly all mouth (right side of subject) being swallowed by a larger creature. In addition, the "small fish" could serve as a mouth for the larger creature. Read all about it! The tree monster of the Tennessee River revealed in a photo! Did you spot anything that I did not?

Take a look at the inside of this hot air balloon.

You likely see some thin, black lines leading to the center. Now, take a look at one color. Do you see how it curves toward the center? All of the colors are doing so. If you looked at it from a distance, this is what you would see:

Did you see this pattern initially? Once you know the technical side of photography, you have to learn how to "see" to turn yourself from a good photographer to a great one. You do this by looking at subjects in different ways to discover what is really interesting about them. Now look at a very small version of the balloon (like you were standing way back from it):

I imagine you did not see this pattern when you first looked at the bigger picture!

Just as an aside, to repeat an earlier subject, what do you think of the colors of the balloon? Now look at it in black and white.

The lighter color still makes the same pattern, but the other patterns are lost. In addition, the image just lacks that blast of color! The black and white version seems lackluster.

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