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Photography Composition 3: Lines, Curves and Useful Bits

Photography Composition Lines and Curves

Photography Composition 3

This is the third part of the series about composition in photography.  For this one, we are going to chat about lines and curves.  The previous two articles can be found below.

COMPOSITION PART 1

COMPOSITION PART 2

Everything is a Line or a Curve

Everything we see is made up of lines or curves.  From buildings to wheels to an egg, everything is made of these two fundamental lines.  A curve is a bent line in this context.  When we look about us we see lines disappearing down lengths of a road or we see curves spiralling away while looking down a flight of circular stairs.  Lines are everywhere and with some patience and time, we can spot these and use them.

A few examples of some lines:

  • The sides of the road
  • The edge of a building
  • Tiles on a house roof
  • The stem of a flower
  • The horizon
  • Everything you look at has a line or a curve

A couple key things about lines and curves are:

  • Lines can connect or separate objects in a photo.  Think of that typical shot of a road disappearing over the horizon
  • Lines can lead the eyes to certain points in a photo
  • Lines can convey emotion.  Think runner leaning forwards about to sprint, the aggression
  • Vertical lines are strong and powerful.  Think pine trees standing proudly
  • Diagonal lines imply motion.  A building about to topple
  • Curved lines are slow and meandering and leading the eyes to the end.  Thin a spiral staircase or maybe the centre of a sunflower
  • Horizontal lines are steady and calm. Think of the horizon

Keep the lines and curves subtle so they do not overpower a photo and avoid the lines becoming the subject.  Unless that is the object of the photo.

Here are a few examples of lines and curves.

 

Leading lines disappearing to point between trees. The eyes follow the road to a point in the photo.
Leading lines disappearing to a point between the trees. The eyes follow the road to a point in the photo.

 

A combination of both lines and curves leading the eyes to a fixed point.
A combination of both lines and curves leading the eyes to a fixed point.

 

The upright line of the stem gives this flower a strong line straight through the middle of the shot then a soft curves at top give that delicate feel.
The upright line of the stem gives this flower a strong line, straight through the middle of the shot then soft curves at the top of the stem to give that delicate feel.

SUMMARY

Lines and curves are everywhere.  Practice in your mind spotting these shapes and imagine them as a photo.  Very quickly you will see that we are completely surrounded by all sorts of lines.  See if they leed your eyes to a point.  Do the curves leed their way to somewhere?.

Practice looking and seeing.

 

COMPOSITION PART 1

COMPOSITION PART 2

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18 thoughts on “Photography Composition 3: Lines, Curves and Useful Bits

  1. Loving your photos again. I particularly love photos with a good natural line in them, and sometimes will place my camera lower to be able to grab that perspective. For example, I’ll take a photo with my camera sitting on a fence, looking along it, but the main content is the scenery behind the fence.

  2. Thanks for this Alan, composition is something I can really struggle with. It can make the different between an ok photo and a really powerful image. I need to up my game and I’ll make a note of your tips and try a bit harder. Thank you 🙂

  3. l like the idea of using lines and curves as an indicator of photo composition. For example I like the straight line of the flowers stem and how it dominates the photo by being in the centre of the frame.

  4. This is such a great post, I am always on the look out for ways to better my photography. Your photos are breathtaking and the one of the flower is my favourite. Thanks for sharing Alan! Gonna go practise composing my shots now 🙂

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