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Composition Digital Field Guide by Alan Hess

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Chapter 4. Leading Lines

There are lines everywhere, both subtle and obvious, in both nature and man-made environments. Your eyes pick up on them even if you're not aware of it. By using these leading lines in your images, you can control where and how the viewer's eye travels. Unlike the Rule of Thirds, which you can use easily in just about every situation, composing an image using leading lines usually means a close study of the surrounding scene before pressing the Shutter Release button. This chapter will look at what leading lines are, how they work, where to use them, when to use them, and when not to use them.

Leading Lines

One of my favorite spots to photograph is the Ocean Beach pier in San Diego. I picked this image because it contains multiple lines, from the pier heading out to sea, to the way the clouds are lined up in the sky, and even the way the reflections in the foreground seem to point out to the horizon line. Taken at ISO 100, f/16, and 0.8 second.

What Are Leading Lines?

There are many different types of lines that you can use to draw a viewer's eye into and around an image. Many times these lines start on the edge of the frame and lead inward, which leads the eye from the edge into the image. This works especially well when it comes to diagonals.

Diagonals

These can be the strongest lines, leading the viewer from the outside edge, especially close to the corners of the image, ...

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