In landscape photography as in several other styles, strong lines are an essential element of good composition. Lines can be straight or curved, thick or thin, they can be readily visible or merely suggested, but they definitely lead the viewer’s eye inside the frame. Strong lines can make the difference between weaker shots and “keepers” that have solid visual impact.
Of course we’re surrounded by lines of all sorts: fences, buildings, roads, railroads, trees, hedges and rows of objects, etc. Some lines are not so obvious, or at least we don’t always think of them as lines: a river waving through a valley, fire hoses on the scene of a dramatic event, footsteps in the sand or snow, for example. And let’s not forget shadows cast by buildings, wires, and other structures.
Windows, and even irregular shaped openings, both natural or man-made, are great props to frame a subject through. You’ll often see very effective professional photographs that use the concept of a frame within the frame.
Being aware of shapes and strong lines around you will assuredly yield better photos. It’s also a great visual exercise on-site. Training your eye to spot strong lines, whether in a field or on a sidewalk, is a great way to develop a creative eye and get your juices flowing.
Even the most imaginative photographers run into a dry spell now and then. When it happens, it’s a great time to challenge yourself. Make a list of specific shapes to include in your photos and make it your own assignment. Parallel lines, crossed lines, converging lines, squares, circles, triangles, make a list and don’t come home until you’ve shot them all.
It’s a great way to train your eye. And you’ll definitely get a couple of good shots out of it. So get out there!