Leading lines are lines in the photo that direct the attention of the viewer to lines leading to the main subject of the image. A leading line paves an easy path for the eye to follow through different elements of a photo. They can be straight or curved, or even zigzag, there are no rules. Leading lines are all around us in cities and in nature. Your job as the photographer is to find them and arrange them in your photograph so that they lead towards something, even if that something is infinity.
Types of Leading lines
Horizontal Leading Lines
Traditionally associated with calm, peace and tranquility, horizontal lines are fantastic choices for nature and more relaxed shots. The wide nature of the shot can convey openness, and can be especially atmospheric when paired with great lighting.
Vertical Leading Lines
These are most often used to convey power, dignity and strength. When you want a shot to be strong, direct, or imposing, this is a great choice to go with.
Diagonal Leading Lines
When you want to provide a sense of change, motion, or direction, a diagonal line is a wonderful option. Most often, diagonal lines are visually followed from foreground to background, left to right, so in these cases your subject should be either at the start or end of your line to maximize impact.
Implied Leading Lines
These lines don’t actually exist, and are instead created by other factors. The human eye itself is one such line: when taking a shot from behind a human subject, for example, we may be drawn to where that subject is looking.
Intersecting Leading Lines
Intersecting lines can be both a benefit and a hindrance. On the one hand, if you are not careful they can completely ruin the flow of a shot. When skillfully applied in a composition, however, you can frame things deliberately in interesting ways to ramp up tension in a shot or add an element of confusion.
Curved Leading Lines
On the whole, curved lines feel more natural than straight ones do. These are most often used in nature shots where leading lines can be used to highlight specific landmarks.
Converging Leading Lines
These lines are quite useful to naturally highlight a subject. When two lines meet, our eyes tend to focus there. If your scene has two converging leading lines, then that is a great place to situate your subject.
To master this technique, I think you’ve got to become a child again. Remember when we were children, we used to draw shapes and lines over whatever we used to see. You need to do just that. When you’re setting up a shot, take a moment to examine the scene for its prominent lines, and start drawing them in midair. Clear your mind, relax your eyes, and notice where they are naturally drawn to.
Another tip is to make your subject the most important aspect of the image. No matter how you set up your composition, you need to make certain that the leading lines help direct the viewer towards the subject or the part that has greatest importance, that can also be towards infinity, but they should lead somewhere.
Here are a few more examples of leading lines
I personally am a fan of leading lines. And try to use them a lot. Still trying to perfect it, but nothing is perfect, even in photography. Photography is somewhere you have to keep learning, keep making mistakes, in order to excel.
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