Lines are a fantastic tool to move the viewer’s eye through a photograph. When there is a dominant line, the eye wants to follow it through. We can use this to great effect in our compositions, drawing the eye to a specific point or subject by setting up leading lines. I’ve touched on this topic before, in Exploring with a Camera: Linear Perspective.
What happens when there is more than one line? If the lines converge to a point, there is a flow to the photograph, leading the viewer’s eye to the convergence point. If the lines are in opposition, however, there is a dynamic tension that is set up in the image. Your eye moves from one place, only to move back in the other direction. This tension is fascinating to me, and is what I’ve been exploring with Opposing Lines in my photographs.
The dynamic of opposing lines in an image first caught my eye with this image, from Old Colorado City, Colorado. The perspective in the mural leads you in one direction, from left to right in the photograph. The direction of the bricks, however, leads you in the opposite direction: right to left. This dynamic of opposing lines was set up by the angle of the shot. If it had been straight on, the bricks would have been straight and would have served as a backdrop rather than a key element as an opposing line.
In the image below, the lines of the brick wall and the lines of the shadows from a nearby tree are in opposition. How does your eye move through this photo? The perspective, again created by standing at an angle to the brick wall, creates the opposing lines. The lines make an otherwise simple image more interesting. The lead-in image, of the stairway and shadow, provides a similar dynamic of opposing lines using shadows.
I loved the lines created by the architecture in Chicago, and this image of reflected buildings sets up an interesting opposing-line dynamic. Without the reflection, the image would be a simple repeating grid of windows. With the reflection, there is a strong diagonal created by the buildings along the lines of the side of the windows. That diagonal is opposed by the thicker lines of the bottom of the windows. I find the opposing lines in the image more interesting than a standard view of buildings against sky.
Opposing lines aren’t just found on the outside of buildings, in this image from the Art Institute of Chicago, the reflection of the beam creates an opposing line. There is not as much tension in this image as those discussed previously, since the reflection serves to connect the two beams into a zig-zag. This leads your eye through from beam to beam. The opposing lines of the window panes makes a stronger dynamic, leading your eye back up to the top of the image after you zig-zag down.
Shadows, reflections and angled perspectives are all great ways to create opposing lines in your images. What other ways can you find to set up this dynamic? Take a look at your archives and go out exploring to find opposing lines. You can link up below, through 17 November. I can’t wait to see what you find!
FYI - Links will be moderated. Please use a permalink, ensure that your linked image is on topic, and include a link back to this site in your post through the Exploring with a Camera button (available here) or a text link. Thanks!