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A leading line paves an easy path for the eye to follow through different elements of a photo. Usually they start at the bottom of the frame and guide the eye upwards and inwards, from the foreground of the image to the background, typically leading toward the main subject.
The easiest place to find a leading line is on a road. Roadways are inherently leading because they go somewhere, give us a feeling of motion, and the lines often point so far inwards that they reach a vanishing point – the place where two or more lines converge into theoretical infinity.
When leading lines, such as roads, connect the foreground to the background of a scene, they help to create depth and dimensionality which draws the viewer into the image.
Leading lines are all around us in cities and in nature. Your job as the photographer is to find them and arrange them in your photograph so that they lead towards something, even if that something is infinity.
When you’re setting up a shot, take a moment to examine the scene for its prominent lines. Clear your mind, relax your eyes, and notice where they are naturally drawn to.
Pay special attention to man-made things such as:
In nature, pay particular attention to:
Once you’ve identified your strongest lines, consider how you can use them to enhance your composition. Depending on your intention, you might:
Arranging the elements in the frame may involve the use of different lenses to change perspective, but usually you can accomplish it simply by moving yourself so that the point of view you choose is purposeful.
Leading lines are the key compositional element that carries our eye through the photograph. They can be used to tell a story, to place emphasis, and to draw a connection between two objects.
Use them creatively and with expressive purpose to help you tell your unique photographic tale.