Landscape Photography: Lines
It’s easy to take a photograph of your surroundings, and you might get lucky enough to encompass some of the great features of the landscape. However, to truly engage your viewers and impress your family and friends, you should find a way to direct the eye deeper into the photograph. This doesn’t mean that wide broad, expansive photographs aren’t valuable. Rather, it is important to vary your portfolio and experiment with the natural lines of the land.
Draw the viewer in
Including leading lines in your photographs is a simple way to achieve this. Because the eye is naturally drawn toward lines and other block shapes, the inclusion of lines is a simple way to further engage viewers and increase their interest in your photos. This is a natural response, so viewers are likely to be unaware that they are even reacting this way.
While vertical lines will bring the viewer deeper into the photograph, horizontal lines are an alternative that can create a sense of harmony and balance. In both instances, lines will guide the viewer’s eye in a specific direction and create a clear focus within the photograph. Experiment with the angles of each line to find the best focal point.
Make use of what’s in front of you
These lines may be man-made, such as traffic lines on a road or lines created by telephone poles and wires. Traffic lines are an especially good example because they tend to be bold and well defined, and the bright white or yellow stripes are easy to identify. Likewise, railway tracks are well defined lines that can definitely enhance viewer interest. All of these will direct your viewers’ eyes into the photograph. This serves to complement the landscape portion of each photo.
Natural lines may include streams of water or rows of crops in farmland. Shores and shorelines, such as the beach at the ocean or the bank of a river, are also good natural lines. Though these are less well defined, they still tend to include lines that can again be used to direct the eye.
When you use this approach, be sure that the lines lead into or out of the main focal point of the photograph. Regardless of what you intend to be the focus, lines will guide the eye in a specific direction. It’s best to arrange your photograph so that they are angled toward the distant mountain chain, sunset, forest, or any other focus point you may have in mind.
Ultimately, lead in lines are a great way to enhance your story. Every photograph is designed to share a story and landscape photographs are supposed to share an entire experience. Because you can take control of the image and use the brain’s natural response to lines to your advantage, you can be sure that each viewer catches the highlight of your photographs, even if they aren’t aware of the effect of these lines.
Tell your story
Because this adds such value to your photographs’ stories, it is important to keep this in mind before snapping the shot in the first place. Be sure that you understand what your focus is and you know the message you’re trying to send. Is it just a beautiful landscape, or is there more to the story? When you have a clear message that you’re trying to convey and an experience to share that enhances your images, the use of lines is a good way to spike viewer interest and provide you with a great storytelling opportunity.
When photographing the landscape, it is so important to take advantage of any natural features that can enhance your photographs. The mark of a talented photographer is one who can use these features to their best advantage to create a truly stunning masterpiece.
A really great book that will tell you everything you need to know about composition is The Phtoographers Eye by Michael Freeman, it’s a fantastic book full of great insight and knowledge and one I refer back to time and time again.