It’s been an interesting week so far, studying all of these diagonal lines in our photographs! Exploring with a Camera: Dynamic Diagonals has got me thinking and observing how our eye moves in the frame.
How does your eye move through this image? The diagonals are integral to the image, yet they are not part of the main subject, the city sky line. The view through the fence creates a feeling of separation, but the crazy diagonals of the fence give more energy and life. It doesn’t feel like a stiff separation to me. What’s your response?
I’ve also been pondering the whole idea of the eye primarily “left to right” through the frame. I have seen many situations in the linked exploration where my eye does not move this way. I think the subject itself, along with our own perceptions and experiences, have a strong impact on how our eye moves through the frame. “We always read photographs left to right” is too much of a generalization.
For example, in this image my eye moves from the upper left to the lower right. All of the branches are along this diagonal, with varying angles. It feels as if I am following gravity this way, so it is a comfortable flow. Gravity is pulling the branches toward the ground; my eye follows.
I have noticed in images oriented vertically I tend to follow the diagonal top-to-bottom more than left-to-right. That is how I read the staircase image in my original post, top-to-bottom. Many others, however, followed the staircase UP, bottom-to-top. That is in direct opposition to both the premise that we will read a photograph left-to-right, or even my new idea of top-to-bottom in vertical photos.
As another example, I’ve noticed converging lines along a path or a road have a stronger impact on how I follow a diagonal than the expected “left-to-right” reading. My eye is going to want to follow the path to its conclusion, regardless of the orientation within the frame. In this case, my personal experience of walking down a path or road outweighs the other factors that might influence how my eye moves through the diagonal.
Without a doubt, I’m seeing that diagonals are a dynamic and powerful force in our photographs. How we read them, however, may have more to do with our personal experiences and perceptions than any compositional generalizations.
What are you seeing so far? Share with us today.