Project Three: Lines

In photography lines are used to create dynamic impact, to lead the eye to certain elements in the photograph.

The three types of lines that the following project encourages you to look at is Horizontal, Vertical and Diagonal. For this project I will study the first two.

Darren Rowse, the editor and founder of Digital Photography School’ says “There is something about a horizontal line in an image that conveys a message of stability or even rest.’ And that’s a very true point, whereas vertical lines can create dramatic and striking photographs with intense contrasts of height. For instance if you were taking a photograph of the Eiffel Tower, it would be very easy to take a photo from a distance and the lines would lead the eye up. But to take the photo from a vantage point underneath the hard lines would instantly create a dramatic and opposing photo.

In this project I aim to understand the ways in which lines can create impact in a photo. And also to discover just how many different objects and situations that lines can arise from.

Reading List for this project.

Michael Freeman: The Photographers Eye

Phrases of interest “In illustration a line if often the first mark made, in photography is occurs less obviously and usually by implication.”

The Complete Guide to Photography: Ian Farrell

The Complete Guide to Photographic Composition: Tony Worobiec.

“…Horizontal lines have a calming effect…vertical introduce a compelling and energetic rhythm.”



With the lines of this lifeboat ramp filling the first part of the image, they create a sense of width so the landscape seems vast. The point where the lines end were deliberately left out to give the feeling that they extend beyond the photo thus reinforcing the apparent endlessness The lines in the foreground join those on the beach, leading the eye to the horizon which reiterates the horizontal line throughout the image.


With the model standing close to the edge of the frame, the shadow can spread out and fill the bottom half of the screen. Michael Freeman says “Contrast plays the biggest role in defining lines” So by reverting it to black and white the tones were able to stand out without the distraction out of colour . The man and shadow are counterbalanced by the tiny figure in the distance and the remains of the burnt pier. I also converted it to black.


Horizontal lines are reiterated throughout this image, from the irregular line of seagulls on the jetty, the boats and then the horizon and band of trees.


This is my favourite image of the four as I feel by splitting the photo into these horizontal lines by shooting through a fence, the drama of it is really conveyed, with even the water serving as small intermittent lines.
I made sure the line of birds matched evenly within the lines, centrally positioning it so the image showed the symmetry.


When I went about shooting for the verticals I made a list of possible situations, the line of a building was obvious but I wanted to try something different.


The converging lines on either side of the wall are there to reinforce the horizontal line. Both run to the horizon but by lining the wall up with the lamppost, the two seem to run into one and shoot directly into the sky therefore creating more drama in the image.


These two plants were very striking with the sun shining through their leaves. I have recently been reading about the ‘Odd rule’ in composition, where a cluster of objects work better if they are of an odd number. But in this case I was limited to the elements in front of me. By standing underneath them so the sun illuminated the leaves the vertical lines of the stalk are clearly shown.


In this photo the trees act as vertical lines, with their quantity and the silhouette creating a striking tonal contrast and reiterating the lines. The small figure between the trees may seem unimportant but it is the fulcrum and counter balances everything in the image.


The final image was taken at a garden centre showing these giraffe statues. By standing underneath and shooting up I was able to convey the vertical line of the neck leading the eye up to their heads. I shot with flash so the detail of the giraffes weren’t rendered as a silhouette.

After completing this project, I researched some images of lines and the ways in which they can change a photo. I typed ‘lines in photography’ into Google and the results were extremely striking.

A line can be used in such a variety of ways, from directing the eye along meandering rivers and using converging lines to cause a space to seem vast and tiny at the same time.

It was an interesting journey researching into the effects a line can have on a photo and I now have yet another tool which I will apply and think of in my photography. Before this course I would simply click to take a photo, now I am laying out the composition, changing from vertical to horizontal, pondering the effect of every single element in the viewfinder and whether it brings anything to the image.


One comment

  1. Nice exercises Chloe. I actually still find that I shoot a lot of random pics, but that these pics are having a much higher star rating when I come to look later! Similar effect – different modus operandi?

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