Rules of Photography – Composition, Leading Lines

Posted on Nov 18, 2015 | No Comments

Think of composition as the foundations of your image.  And just like those of a building, foundations need to be strong.

Composition is all about how you choose to order the visual elements in your picture.  It’s slippery and subjective, and often something you have to feel rather then calculate.  But don’t let this talk of feelings make you nervous, as we’re about to show you some fundamental techniques to help you get started.

These techniques are the ones that great photographers use time and time again.  They’re also the ones that will instantly make your pictures come alive

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1. Look for the leading line

Great cLeading Lines exampleompositions take you on a journey.  Your eyes are guided around the image on a specific path, leading to where the photographer wants to take you.

Here, Henri Cartier-Bresson has taken a simple scene and created something beautiful.  Instantly the strong, downward point of view makes us feel like we’re falling into the composition.  Soon our eyes latch onto the foreground railings and descend down the steps.  As the railings bend to the left, the kerb becomes more dominant.  Only then do we arc around to reach the subject – a man racing past on a bike.

This tightly controlled visual journey is called a ‘leading line’ and photographers love them.

One main leading line is all you often need and they’re at their most powerful when they sweep in from the edge of the frame.

If you keep your eyes peeled you’ll find leading lines everywhere, from the converging rails of a train track to the branch of a tree or the cracks in a rock face – and don’t be shy about making lines very overt in your image.

In this case, Cartier-Besson makes our eyes travel in a slingshot motion around the image to heighten its very essence – movement.

Henri Cartier-Besson

The Var department Hyeres France Henri Cartier-Besson 1932

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Composition, The Shape of things is next!

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