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Lines - Your Best Friend or Your Worst Nightmare - Articles Surfing
In music; if you had to start at the very beginning, you would start with 'Doe, Ray, Me' or so the song goes. In art it would be 'Line, Texture, and Light.' Keep in mind that if you want to be a great photographer, you also want to be a great Artist. Anybody can go out and buy a cheap camera, and push the button. That does not make them a great photographer. But the truly great ones like: Ansel Adams, Imogen Cunningham, and Edward Weston all had one thing in common. These people knew art and the elements of design.
Lines can be seen or not seen. They can be solid objects or merely implied. Lines can be straight, curved, or jagged. They can lead your eyes into your photograph, or distract you and force you to look elsewhere. A line may be continuous and unbroken; or it may consist of isolated points that are visually connected by the human eye on some deep subconscious level. In short, they can be your best friend or your worse nightmare.
Vertical Lines represent vitality and strength.
Horizontal Lines represent tranquility and being at peace.
Straight Lines represent tenseness and precision. These lines are often used to make a
Slightly Curved lines are loose and flexible. These lines are often thought of as sexy.
Vigorously Curved lines change direction more rapidly. These types of lines are considered more active and forceful.
The Arc of a Circle is very consistent in change of direction. These lines used carefully can demand attention, however . . . used casually it can also be the most boring.
Diagonal Lines lead the eyes. If you are aware of that fact, it can be good, if you are not,
it could be a disaster for your image. They can lead towards your subject or away from it.
The Jagged Line with its sudden, abrupt change of direction suggests energy, activity, or conflict. If you want an emotional response, be aware of these lines.
So who cares about all these different types of lines? You should, if you want your work to look its best. If you shoot a tall powerful waterfall; do you hold your camera in a vertical position or a horizontal one? If you want to shoot a calm peaceful lake with a mountain reflecting off the surface, which direction would you shoot? When your picture says one thing, and you shoot in the opposite direction, you've lost all credibility as a great photographer. Even if the scene is beautiful, if the format doesn't fit the image, you just got lucky.
When I was in High School, I took pictures of everything. I won several awards. Everybody knew I was a photographer and life was good. When I went to college, a teacher reviewed my portfolio. After studying every picture, he said, 'Do you know what you're problem is?'
Unaware that I actually had a problem, I nervously replied, 'No. What's my problem?'
'Your problem is . . . you were told you were good,' he answered calmly.
Confused, I humbly asked, 'and why is that a problem?'
He grinned as he replied, 'You've been told you were good, by people who have no idea what good really is. Now, I'm going to teach you how to be good, according to standards of those of us in the art world who know what good really is.'
The very first photo tip that this great teacher taught me was about lines. Leading lines lead. That's what they do. They can lead your eyes deeper into the image, or . . . they can lead it off the page all together.
Occasionally the line in your photo is the subject (like a wall or a fence), but most of the time lines are the thing that introduces your subject. If you were to be introduced to a new potential customer, would you want that introduction to be positive or negative?? For most of us when someone views our work for the first time, that is our introduction. If the lines in your image support or lead to the subject, that's a good introduction; but . . . if the lines are in conflict or actually lead you away from the subject, that's a bad introduction.
Different types of lines send out different messages. The good news is you control how the viewer sees those lines. Being aware of lines, both seen and unseen is one of the first steps in becoming a great photographer. Using lines to your advantage is one of those little known photo tips that can take your work to the next level.
Copyright © 1995 - Photius Coutsoukis (All Rights Reserved).
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