Focus on Disney World – Leading Lines

Lighthouse
Copyright © 2007 Barrie Brewer, Nikon D50/18-200VR, 9.3s shutter, f8

One way to make the main subject of your photograph stand out is to compose your shot with leading lines. Leading lines are lines in a photograph used to guide your viewer’s eye through your photograph. When deciding how to compose your shot, consider where the line begins and ends, the direction of its flow and its angle and shape.

In this photo, my main subject is the lighthouse in front of the Yacht Club resort. There are several leading lines here: the dock, the beam of light reflected on the dock, the rope railing. Even the buildings on the horizon lead your eye to the lighthouse. The list of things to use as leading lines is endless. Even people and shadows can be used to create leading lines.

The way in which the lines flow should allow your viewer to enter the picture where the line begins and continue his or her viewing without being lead out of the photo. By changing your camera angles you can change the direction the lines in the photograph are leading. Zooming in or out can change where your line begins and ends.

You can even affect the mood of your photo by the shape of leading line you choose. Different lines are thought to have psychological meanings: vertical lines create a feeling of stature and strength and can even imply power; horizontal lines are thought to be peaceful or stable, suggesting rest; diagonal lines represent activity or motion; and curved lines are thought to be graceful and imply beauty.

Leading lines will give depth to your photo and can make an average scene look a lot more interesting. Give it a try next time you are composing a photograph.

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