The concept of leading lines might seem like a foreign language and super technical terms for someone just learning cell phone photography. It is a simple composition technique that can be easily mastered. Our eyes naturally follow lines due to the clarity and distinction they create. Lines lead us on a journey and add depth as the story is portrayed. Lines can lead us into a straight direction through a street or it can lead us on a path winding next to a river. Capturing these lines in an image will lead the viewer to gain powerful meaning in the story. Leading Lines lead the viewer throughout the story without being present. Leading lines can be the main composition focus or it can be used with other tools like the rule of thirds, or symmetry.
Finding Leading Lines
Take a moment and look around when you are outside or in a building. Look at the shapes and the lines. Where do the lines lead your eye? Get close to the ground and see what perspective you can gain. Escalators, walls, railings, fences, paths, and rivers are great examples of leading lines in inside and outside photographs.
Look for Lines That Curve Through the Image
When taking cell phone photos in nature it is often easy to think that there are not many leading lines, but nature is filled with so many possibilities. Rivers curving through vast mountain ranges lead you through the image is a great example of leading lines. Trees fallen in a line or standing straight to the horizon lead the eye on a journey. Patterns of spirals that lead to a center point can be engaging and interest to look at. Sea shells or circular stair cases are a great example of how spiral lines can be powerful leading lines.
Where is the Scene Leading Your Eye?
When looking at pictures we naturally start at the very center of the image. Then we look at the other part of the shot. The image composition is there to show us where to look next and how to get meaning out of the shot. Get low to get a closer look at the leading lines and show a more expansive view of the composition. Place your subject at the end so the lines lead into them. The lines should complement the subject and bring the viewer into what the subject is doing. A good example of this is taking a picture of someone at the end of a long hallway.
What Camera Angle Would Help Me to Create More Lines?
Leading lines have many possibilities for great composition. It may be creating symmetry by putting the leading lines in the center of the image. It may add interest to add diagonals that lead the viewer across the image to an ending point using the rule of thirds. Placing the diagonal so it emerges from the corner leads to a start and a finish view which is very pleasing to the eye.
Straighten Your Image?
One of the biggest mistakes beginner mobile photographers do is that they go to take an image using leading lines and their lines are not straight. They have slightly turned the phone when taking the picture at an angle. This makes for good looking images but not great ones. To solve this problem the phone has an option to turn on a grid. This will help you ensure that your images are straight. If you really need to straighten an image you can alter it in post processing. A final tip, that can really help to get straight images is to use a tripod or stabilizer.
Final Tips and Recap-
- When taking a shot, take the time to look at the lines and shapes in the shot.
- Look for curved lines such as rivers to lead you through the story.
- The lines should complement the subject and bring the viewer into what the subject is doing.
- Make sure the image is straight before you take the shot.
- To get straight images) use a tripod or stabilizer.