Thursday, April 19, 2012

Exploring With A Camera ~ Dynamic Diagonals

When I began photography I didn’t know there were so many things you need to think about before you snap that shutter button! It’s not just what you shoot, it’s how you shoot it. Remembering and applying the rules of composition can take something ordinary and turn it into an amazing photo. That being said, I also believe that I don’t have to be strict with these rules. Some of my best images broke a rule or two!!

In Kat’s Exploring With A Camera  the theme is using diagonals in photography. Horizontal lines seem to make an image calm, vertical lines suggest stability, and diagonal lines create feelings of drama or movement. I decided to explore this subject in my nature images. The use of diagonals is something I seem to instinctively do, as many of my photos have diagonals in them.  

The diagonal line that goes from top left to bottom right creates the greatest sense of motion and can be called the “primary diagonal.” For instance, in the photo below, by using this diagonal line, your eye very quickly follows from stem to tip.

The opposite direction, of course, is from bottom left to top right, the “secondary diagonal.” Our eye does not travel this line as easily.  This photo has a very subtle diagonal line, the  main vein of the leaf.  It's considered dynamic because the angle is sharp.  I found it interesting that I have more photos with secondary diagonal lines.  I wonder if it’s because I want to take my time looking across the image and enjoying every detail of nature.

The diagonal line of the rock wall is less dynamic because it has a smaller angle. The line seems to gently lead us along the path through the beautiful flowers.

Often in photography, we find multiple diagonal lines such as parallel lines. I purposely created these diagonal lines by tilting my camera. If I had left it with a straight horizon, it would not have been as interesting.

Not all multiple lines are parallel. The lines of the log and the stick create a more dynamic background.

Sometimes we find converging diagonal lines. Converging lines have different angles that meet and lead your eyes to a certain point. I had to include the next one just because it made me laugh! As I was looking through photos, guess what I saw on this ducks feet! Yes, converging lines leading right up to his legs!! You can find converging lines in a lot of strange places!  It may not be quite what Kat had in mind, but it makes me smile!!

Zig-zag lines can be used to create an interesting flow of motion through an image. In this photo my eye starts at the bottom of the path, follows it up to the stone wall, and then across to the path that leads out of the picture. The paths and wall create a natural flow for your eyes to follow whether you start at the top or bottom of the photo.

Sometimes a diagonal line can be implied. In this photo you don't have an actual line, but your eyes see a line created by the ripples and the ducks. Having them at a diagonal seems to make them move through the image.

Below, I leave you with some non-nature images with diagonal lines. See if you can identify the different diagonals. Remember, some lines can fit more that one category.





{Answers: (1) parallel, (2) converging, (3) top left to right, (4) zig-zag, (5) bottom left to right}

There’s still time to join us in Exploring With A Camera.

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Visit Kat Eye Studio for more information,
read about diagonals,
view her beautiful examples.


  1. Beautiful examples of diagonal lines, Cathy. My favourite is number three with the wall and those lovely pink flowers. I love the ducks lined up too and the zig-zag garden shot. The railroad, railings and stairs are all excellent examples. So lovely to see so many nature shots which I love above all! Excellent job and so varied!

  2. Excellent post on diagonals -- you have found some great examples, Cathy! Like you, I found I use secondary diagonals a lot -- perhaps because I'm left handed? I love your zigzag path in the garden and your rock wall image. And how clever to find diagonals in the duck's feet!

  3. Absolutely brilliant, I love doing diagonals much to the amusement of some but hey, we know better! I can't quite decide if I have a favourite here as they are all so good but the ducks feet made me smile. Suzy x

  4. Nice diagonals! Love the webbed feet & the train tracks!

  5. So interesting. Teriffic photos, as always. The duck feet made me laugh too.

  6. Wonderful examples Cathy! I enjoyed each and every one, and I LOVE that you saw the lines in the ducks feet. Yes! All of our images are composed of lines, and to be able to see the lines instead of just the object better helps with the compositional choices. This statement is insightful, "I found it interesting that I have more photos with secondary diagonal lines. I wonder if it’s because I want to take my time looking across the image and enjoying every detail of nature." That compositional choice allows you and viewer to linger longer - fantastic. Thanks so much for linking in to Exploring with a Camera.

  7. I have to agree with the other comments here, Cathy, that these are great photos, excellent examples of diagonals. Those duck feet made me laugh, too, but how cool that you saw those lines! My favorite is the three ducks in the water, with the implied diagonal, but also with kind of lines created by the ripples in the water.

  8. Like Deborah, I can only agree with all of the above comments. You have many great examples here and clearly have a good grasp of the concept of diagonals. Also like Deb, my favorite is the three ducks in the water. I love the ripples and colors in the water, and the ducks are perfectly placed in the frame.

  9. what a beautiful serie is this, every picture tells his own story, just such a great job.

  10. Haha, love that you saw the diagonals on a duck's feet! Love your parallel example and that beauiful red brick and blue door combintation - so many lovely textures as well as diagonals. Beautifully done.

  11. Love them many clever perspectives! The duck's feet are just awesome! To be honest, I'm having a hard time picking a favorite! The texture in the first one is terrific.


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