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Using Horizontal Lines in Photography

This tip builds on the previous one on Working the Lines in your Photography.

horizontal lines

There’s something about a horizontal line in an image that conveys a message of ‘stability’ or even ‘rest’. Horizons, fallen trees, oceans, sleeping people – all of these subjects have something about them that speaks either of permanency and timelessness or rest.

Horizons are the most common horizontal line to be found in photographs and they often act as a dividing point in a photograph – in effect an anchor that the rest of the image is formed around.

If you want to accentuate the calming stable impact of a horizon one effective technique to use is to shoot your images with horizontal framing (with the longest part of your cameras frame from left to right.

Alternatively if you want to reemphasize horizontal lines shoot with you camera in a vertical framing.

More Horizontal LinesKeep in mind that unbroken horizons can often lead to a photograph feeling somewhat static or dull and a good strategy is to use other shapes in the landscape you’re photograph to break things up and give a point of interest (mountains, trees, buildings etc).

Horizons should generally not be placed in the middle of your frame. This leaves an image feeling unsettled compositionally. A much more effective technique is to place them in the upper or lower third of your frame.

Layers of horizontal lines can create rhythm or patterns in an image that can become the focus of an image in and of itself.

Breaking horizontal lines up with an object or intersecting vertical lines can also create interest.

Lastly work hard to keep your Horizontal lines horizontal and square with the edges of your images frame. There’s nothing more frustrating that viewing a picture that is slightly off centre.

Now it’s time to talk about Vertical Lines.

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Darren Rowse
Darren Rowse

is the editor and founder of Digital Photography School and SnapnDeals.

He lives in Melbourne Australia and is also the editor of the ProBlogger Blog Tips. Follow him on Instagram, on Twitter at @digitalPS or on Google+.