Diagonal Lines in Landscape Photography

Share this Article 

Today’s landscape photo tip involves – photography diagonal lines! In a landscape photo, portrait photo, still life or any other, the first major task of the photographer is to draw the viewer’s eye to the most important aspects of the shot – and keep it there!

lines in photography

“SG Skyline” captured by Jet Rabe (Click Image to See More From Jet Rabe)

We want our photo to send some sort of message – if not, we shouldn’t be taking the shot – so we want to be certain that our viewer’s attention is focused in the right area. By the way, the “message” we are sending could be as simple as wanting them to see an attractive cloud formation, or some pretty colors in a rainbow – whatever.

We are taking the shot because something in that scene attracted us and we want the viewer to see it too!

This is actually the whole point to the photo composition rules. To make sure the viewer sees what we want them to see in the scene.

First, let’s consider how a person looks at a photo. Obviously it’s not a hard and fast rule – after all, people are individuals – but eye tracking studies have shown that people tend to start off in the lower left and let their eye travel up towards the upper right.

Add to that the tendency of a viewer’s eye to follow natural lines in a photo and you have the genesis of a pretty powerful compositional tool!

In photography, diagonal lines starting at the lower left and traveling towards the upper right are very powerful!

leading lines

“Reflections of Calatrava” captured by George Grivas (Click Image to See More From George Grivas)

Why does the viewer’s eye typically go from left to right? Obviously it is because we are accustomed to reading from left to right. We tend to look at all text and photos in that way!

Here’s a tip to keep in mind – I haven’t seen any studies to support this, but I suspect that in countries where people read from right to left, the viewer’s eye will travel from right to left!

In that case, design your diagonals to lead them into the photo from right to left!

Keep your potential viewers in mind when you are designing your photography diagonal lines.

When you are trying to determine where to place your diagonals, try not to start or end right in the corner. Photography diagonal lines that split the composition in half are no more interesting than placing the main subject in the bulls eye position.

Your diagonal lines don’t have to be an actual line. It could be a fence drawing a viewer’s eye – the horizon (if you are shooting at some funky angle) – anything!

Try this – have diagonal lines coming from both right AND left and converging at the “star” of your photo!

While vertical and horizontal leading lines are nice compositional elements, photography diagonal lines are more dynamic and will impart more strength and verve to your shot.

diagonal line photo

“Delegal Creek, Skidaway Island, Georgia” captured by Doug Herrick (Click Image to See More From Doug Herrick)

Your assignment for today is to get out there – with your camera – and find ten different ways to add photography diagonal lines to your photos. This landscape photo tip – while it seems simple – is one of the big photo composition rules! Master it!

About the Author:
Dan Eitreim writes forĀ http://OnTargetPhotoTraining.com. He has been a professional photographer in Southern California for over 20 years. He philosophy is that learning photography is easy, if you know a few tried and true strategies.

Like This Article?

Don't Miss The Next One!

Join over 100,000 photographers of all experience levels who receive our free photography tips and articles to stay current:

One Comment

  1. Thank you mr. Eitreim for including one of my photos in your article. You put a smile on my face and you gave me strength to keep practicing with photography, something that makes me happy either way.

Leave a Comment

Personalize your comment with an avatar from Gravatar.com!

New! Want more photography tips? We now offer a free newsletter for photographers:

No, my photos are the best, close this forever