Tag Archives: subject

Photography Composition: Use Leading Lines To Anchor Subject

Valley Creek - Valley Forge

In the photo above, you have a classic example of the photographic compositional element known as “leading lines.” The banks of the creek as well as the trees on each side form lines that lead your eye to the edge of the visible creek. In this photo the viewer’s eyes are led from the bottom/middle of the photo to near the top.

Leading lines can perform the simple function in the photo above, in essence becoming the subject of the photo, or part of the subject itself. But leading lines can serve to anchor your main subject in the frame, like in the photo below:

Philadelphia Street Photography - 0943

In the above photo, and starting from the bottom left of the frame, the viewer’s eye is led by the long shadow to the main subject. But there is also a secondary leading line that is the lighter colored pavement. And last, the starburst (sun rays) can also be considered leading lines that serve to anchor the subject from the top of the frame. This is definitely not a conventional (whatever that means) leading lines photograph, but it still illustrates the use of lines and flow in the composition, leading the viewer’s eyes to the main subject. But as I said, leading lines don’t always need to anchor a subject, the line or lines can be the subject, as is the case here:

Valley Forge - 0335

The trail is both the leading lines element and the main subject of the above photo.

And here is another example of leading lines that anchor the main subject, although in this photo, the leading lines are likely to lead the viewer’s eyes away from the subject (depending on where your eyes first hit the photo), but in this case it makes for an effective and interesting composition:

Knox Quarters Stables - 0348

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26 Photography Guidelines To Build From

DO NOT read this list if you are looking for camera setting tips, or gear recommendations, or lighting techniques, or composition tricks. DO read this list if you are looking to formulate your own thought processes and mental framework to improve your art and your relationship with photography. I am not a professional photographer. I created this list for myself, that’s why its written in the first person, but I thought maybe it could be of use to others. Use it as a starting point for your own photographic guidelines, and maybe to create your own list.

Figurine sculpture sitting on a box, dangling legs.

Figurine sculpture sitting on a box, dangling legs.

26 PHOTOGRAPHY GUIDELINES

  1. I will miss every shot I don’t take.
  2. Today everyone is a photographer, so I’ll make it a goal to find my photographic voice, my unique take on the world, my personal visual style.
  3. Better gear does not make me a better photographer.
  4. Repeat guideline #3 at least 20 times before clicking that buy button.
  5. Always shoot raw.
  6. Purchase more storage space if necessary to facilitate #5.
  7. Always backup my photos, and in addition to a local backup, make sure I have at least one off-site (cloud) backup as well.
  8. When I’m searching for an interesting photographic subject, I must remember that some of the best photos in history are of the most commonplace, day-to-day subjects.
  9. If the shot is not working, get closer to the subject.
  10. If the shot is not working, get further away from the subject.
  11. If the shot is not working, walk around the subject and shoot it from a different angle.
  12. If the only camera I have with me is my smart phone, don’t stop looking for interesting things to shoot, and don’t hesitate to use the camera at my disposal.
  13. Spend less time browsing photography forums, blogs, and books, spend more time making art.
  14. But when the artistic muse is AWOL, recharge by searching for new inspiration by browsing photography forums, blogs, and books.
  15. Take less gear with me on photography outings.
  16. Follow #15, keeping in mind that some of the best photos were taken with a 35mm or 50mm fast prime lens.
  17. Be less timid, and more self-confident, particularly when shooting people. I must not be a voyeur. I either need to fade into the background for candids, or when that’s not possible, I must do the opposite and own it, and become an active part of the scene. Great photographers overcame their fear in service of finding the next great shot.
  18. Since everyone is a photographer, I need to find a different perspective. I need to get down low, because every shot I’ve taken in the past from a low angle has revealed a whole new world.
  19. I should only put my very best photos online. I must resist the temptation to increase quantity which ultimately serves to dilute quality.
  20. Before I click the shutter button, I must stop and take in the scene. There’s no prize for taking the most photographs.
  21. Building on #20, figure out the subject, the thing that anchors the entire scene, and then look for light and dark spaces that create flow and visual interest, and then look for lines that flow towards and away from the main subject.
  22. When working in the digital darkroom (Photoshop, Lightroom, etc.) I need to walk away, come back later with a fresh pair of eyes, and see if I still like the changes I’ve made to a photo.
  23. Good photos can be taken anywhere. While going to a specific location to take photos is perfectly fine, I need to remember that good photos are all about light, lines and composition, and those things can be found (and framed) everywhere.
  24. A good photograph tells a story or it makes people wonder and use their imagination.
  25. I need to take more photos in the rain and/or when the ground is wet, particularly at night. The wet ground and reflections of light from buildings, cars, and street lights creates a magical canvas just waiting to be photographed.
  26. I need to refine and grow this list of personal guidelines.
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