Leading Lines

posted in: Photography | 5
this is an old crutch I found along the lade path - leading lines photography
left something behind ...lost property ?

Living in the countryside means that fences appear quite a lot in my photography. Today I've deliberately used them to demonstrate the concept of leading lines. Every time you view a photograph your eye subconsciously is drawn along lines until it reaches the focal point of the photograph.  These lines are called leading lines and they are just one of the tools that define a good photographic composition.


Leading Lines


They can be fence posts, footpaths, roads, ploughed fields, shadows, stairs.  Furthermore they can be rays of sunshine curves, walls or even abstract lines like limbs if we're taking a portrait. They can be straight, curved or wavy.


It doesn't really matter so long as they don't lead the eye away from the focal point. The lines can define the relationship between the background and foreground. They give the viewer a sense of distance and perspective.


A Visual Journey


Pair your leading line with the rule of thirds and your image becomes a very strong composition!  

Take this photograph for example. Can you see how the multiple lines converge and lead you into the image. Do you see how the lines eventually lead your eye to rest on my focal point?

Let's do it in slow motion...

Your eye is drawn along diagonal shadow of the barbed wire. From the bottom left hand corner to where the shadow meets the metal eyelet in the post. Then your eye moves upwards following along the soft vertical grain lines of the fence post. Then to the barbed wire to the upper left of the photo.
While from the top left of the photograph a road and more barbed wire along with a distant fence post are drawing your eye down into the upper right hand corner of the image. And there sitting in grandeur is a little hill of moss flowering on the top of the fence.  That's my focal point!

leading lines photography, moss growing on fence post with barbed wire

I've only scratched the surface when it comes to leading lines with composition. You can see more examples of leading lines at the Learn Composition by Example Group on Flickr. 

So the next time you're out and about stop and have a look around before you compose your shot. Check to see if there are any lines you can use to your advantage. Then compose your shot to make it have much more impact. 
Follow Rosie Nixon:

Photography Tutor and Gardener

Rosie is a garden photographer, writer and nature lover. She enjoys soaking up nature and is easily distracted from doing the weeding by anything that flutters, flies, buzzes, creeps or crawls! She enjoys sharing the beauty of creation through her photography. Rosie has been featured on TV on BBC2's The Beechgrove Garden and she uses the outdoors as her natural light studio. Her work can be seen at one of Scotland's only photography galleries - Close Gallery, 4b Howe Street, Edinburgh.

Latest posts from

5 Responses

  1. Kala

    Fantastic example of leading lines. And the selective focus is fabulous as are the tones.

  2. Liz

    I have been noticing lines around me as well. Thanks for sharing this with us.

  3. Ida

    Very interesting and informative post. I loved the little grassy patch of moss in your photo and yes I was drawn to it exactly as you described.