Thursday, August 09, 2007

Photojournalism (18): Emphasis by lines: leading lines, diagonal lines, converging lines and vanishing points

Remember our discussion of lines? Lines may either be literal lines like those on basketball floors, on the streets, or imaginary lines like rows, the edges of objects, etc. Lines also have psychological effects on viewers: horizontal lines evoke feelings of stability and serenity; vertical lines convey a sense of grandeur; and diagonal lines convey feelings of movement and dynamism.

Emphasis by leading lines

Leading lines; photo by Atty. GalacioOne way of calling attention to your subject is to use “leading lines.” An example of leading lines is the picket fence behind the girl above making “hapet” with her math assignment. Leading lines, positioned either at the top or bottom portion of the picture, act like magnets pulling in the viewer’s attention towards your main subject.

Emphasis by diagonal lines

Emphasis by diagonal lines; photo by Atty. GalacioA simple yet very powerful device in creating better pictures is the use of diagonal lines. In the picture, there are two diagonal lines on the ground, while the girls themselves (and the way their arms are positioned) also form diagonal lines. To create such lines, you have to shoot your subject from an oblique viewpoint (in simpler terms, shoot your subject from the side). To call more attention to your diagonal lines, anchor them at the corners of your photographs, like in the picture below of a little girl lost among the shadows.

Emphasis by diagonal lines; anchor your diagonal lines at the corners of your picture; photo by Atty. GalacioEmphasis by converging lines

Emphasis by converging lines; Rizal High School Amang Hall 1992; photo by Atty. GalacioIn the picture above, the edges of the covered walk really are parallel but they look like they’re converging towards the vanishing point at the left side of the picture. You will also notice a lot of diagonal lines in this picture (the pushcart, the building at the background area, etc).

Emphasis by converging lines and vanishing points

Emphasis by converging lines and vanishing points; photo by Atty. GalacioRemember our discussion on perspective and vanishing points? Parallel lines can be made to converge at the so-called vanishing point, like in the picture above where the cement posts seem to become progressively smaller and smaller.

In the picture below, I purposely placed my Class ’91 yearbook staffers between the lines on the concrete floor and used a wide angle lens to create lines converging towards the top. Remember that objects located at or near the vanishing point receive greater emphasis than other objects in your picture. You can also cut off (“crop” is the technical term) the vanishing point from your picture in order to create a sense of mystery.

Rizalian Class 91 yearbook staff; photo by Atty. Galacio

9 Photo Composition Tips (featuring Steve McCurry, 2002 Photographer of the Year, American Photo Magazine); Tip Nos. 2 and 3: leading lines, diagonal lines

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