Take the lead
James Paterson explains how strong lines can improve the composition of your landscapes
Leading lines draw a viewer’s eye through a scene, making them interact more with a photo. Discover how to use them in your work
When we gaze upon a scene or an image, our eyes are naturally drawn towards lines and shapes that lead from one point to another. Scientific studies that track eye movement have proved this, and as photographers we can use it to our advantage when composing a photo. Include strong lines and you can lead the eye towards your subject.
It’s a simple but very powerful visual device. Look around and you’ll find leading lines everywhere in the landscape. There are man-made lines created by roads, walls and buildings, then there are natural lines like rivers, trees and the horizon. But if there’s one location that guarantees lines more than any other, it’s the coast. Not only is there the natural break between land and sea, there are also many man-made lines in piers, jetties and walkways that offer plenty of compositional gifts for those willing to look for them.
Leading lines are a useful way to simplify a composition, so it’s a visual device that goes hand in hand with other simplifying techniques like using a long exposure to blur water here. In this project, we’ll explore both techniques – how to use both leading lines and motion blur to strengthen your compositions.
Our eyes are naturally drawn towards lines and shapes that lead from one point to another