How Use Leading Lines to Improve Your Photography

Leading lines are one of the simplest and most powerful tools in photography composition. They draw your viewers into your photos and lead them on a journey through your image. Typically these lines grab your viewer’s eyes and point them toward something cool within the photo. To further explain how you can improve your photos using leading lines, full-time landscape photographer Joshua Cripps created this helpful tutorial:

Everywhere you look there are lines; the trick is to learn how to see it that way. For example, most people can look out and see a road, but in composition, you need to view it as a series of parallel lines. The key to successfully using leading lines is to control where these lines go, so while you can’t change where a road goes, you can change the angle of your photo. For instance, taking a few steps to the right can change the visual and force your leading line to go where you want it to go.

dock leading lines example

Lines of the dock point out into the lake and towards the mountains

The best leading lines run into your image and produce some sort of visual pathway to your payout. For example, a stream leading toward a mountain or sunset. Generally the most effective leading lines are either diagonal or curving lines, which break up the square format of the photo and/or help the viewer traverse the entire frame.

long exposure leading lines

Lines in the waves were created with a longer exposure.

For those same reasons, avoid using horizontal or vertical lines within your image. Horizontal lines create a visual roadblock and prevent the flow within the photo,  while vertical lines keep your viewers’ attention limited to one side of the frame. Thankfully, even when there are no natural leading lines, you can still figure out ways to create them. For instance, Cripps used a longer exposure to create streaks within the waves in his image (above).

Have you used any techniques to create leading lines? If so, comment below and let us know your favorite methods.

For Further Training from Joshua Cripps:

The tutorials in this bundle cover intermediate and advanced Photoshop techniques for landscape photographers. Learn powerful, advanced methods for creating targeted selections for extremely refined adjustments and learn how to blend bracketed images with ease in every situation.

Found here: Advanced Photoshop Techniques

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