How to use Diagonal Lines for Photo Composition
Michael • updated January 2, 2023 • 6 min read
Michael • updated January 2, 2023 • 6 min read
If you’re just starting out in photography, you might be wondering what techniques you can use to improve your compositions. One technique that can make a big difference is the use of diagonal lines.
Diagonal lines are lines that slope or lean rather than being straight up and down or side to side. They can be found in all sorts of subjects, from the branches of a tree to the lines of a building. In this article, we’ll go over the basics of diagonal lines in photography and how you can use them to improve your compositions.
Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced photographer, you’ll find some helpful tips in this article. So, let’s get started and learn more about diagonal lines in photography!
The Diagonal Method (DM) is a method of composition that Dutch photographer and photography teacher Edwin Westhoff found by accident in May 2006 while he was doing research on the “Rule of Thirds,” which is a well-known theory of composition in photography.
The Diagonal Method is not a theory, but something that was found. It doesn’t come from the Golden Ratio or the Rule of Thirds.
Let’s learn a bit more about how this method works. Set the point of view on one or more diagonal lines that are 45 degrees from each corner of the picture. This picture of Vermeer’s “Girl with a Pearl Earring” is a great example.
At two interesting points, the yellow diagonal line meets. The girl’s left eye and the pearl in her ear. It should be noted that this is a painting and not a real photo, but the same theory applies.
The diagonal method is used to draw attention to certain parts of a picture. By drawing attention to certain parts of an image, you can tell a story or make a statement and draw the viewer’s attention.
If you’re into photography, you might have heard the term “diagonal lines” before. But did you know that the word “diagonal” actually comes from the Greek word “diagonios,” which means “from angle to angle”?
So what does all this have to do with photography? Well, diagonal lines in photography are lines that slant across the frame of a photo. They can be found in all sorts of subjects, like the branches of a tree or the lines of a building.
Diagonal lines are used to guide the viewer’s eye through the photo, leading them through the frame and taking in all the details.
Diagonal lines in photos, example bridge, @rosiefoto13
Just look around, there are diagonal lines everywhere. Take a tree that has fallen. At first glance, the downed tree looks like a horizontal line that changes the way you look at the scene.
You can add diagonal lines to a picture in three ways:
If you want to add diagonal lines to a scene, look for real ones. These diagonal lines are easy to use because all you have to do to see them is look around. I bet if you look up from the screen now, you can see some. Examples are:
You don’t have to place the objects yourself for them to make diagonal lines. They can be anything, like natural diagonal lines of objects or lines that were made by people.
When you look at a horizontal line from the side, it changes into a diagonal line and becomes more interesting right away. When seen from above or below, vertical lines look the same.
You can look at a vertical line from a low angle and a wide-angle to increase the distortion and make the line even more diagonal.
So, the type of line in a photo can change depending on where the camera is in relation to the element.
Dutch angle (tilt the camera, subject’s line of sight (an invisible line leading from the subject to where the subject is looking).
Now that we know where to find diagonal lines, the trick is to learn how to place them in a photo to strengthen the composition.
Where you put diagonal lines in a photo can be really important. For example, a diagonal line that goes from the corner of the frame into the center of the photo can be really interesting because it guides the viewer’s eye through the frame.
But you don’t have to put the diagonal line in the exact corner. You can play around with where you place it to create different effects.
How you use diagonal lines in a photo also depends on what you want them to do. Do you want to create a sense of movement?
Do you want to add visual interest? Do you want to create depth? The way you use diagonal lines will depend on what you’re trying to achieve in your photo.
Another thing to keep in mind is that diagonal lines are often used with other types of composition. For example, you might use diagonal lines with horizontal lines or vertical lines to create a more balanced and interesting photo.
So when you’re thinking about how to use diagonal lines in your photos, be sure to consider how they’ll work with other compositional elements as well.
With diagonal lines, you can:
Leading lines are used when diagonal lines lead straight to the main point of an image. The composition is more interesting because of the diagonal line instead of a horizontal or vertical line.
So, what does it mean to divide a picture with diagonal lines? Essentially, it means using diagonal lines to create sections or areas within the frame of the photo.
This can be useful for a variety of reasons. For example, you might use diagonal lines to divide a photo into foreground, middle ground, and background sections. Or, you might use diagonal lines to create a sense of balance or symmetry within the photo.
There are two ways to use more than one diagonal line.
By lowering the point of view, you can increase the depth. When you add or take away diagonal lines, it gives the picture a sense of depth. Adding a path is another way to give your picture depth.
Photographers can also give the impression of depth by using diagonal lines. When you take a picture with a shallow depth of field, the subject stands out, but the background is blurry.
Using diagonal lines to show the instability of an image is inventive and imaginative. Imagine taking a photo of a building. You might take the photo head-on.
This shows the strength and rigid lines of a tall building. How about changing the angle of your camera? Take the photo with the camera facing up, as seen below.
This way, the viewer has to focus on the image because we are not used to seeing diagonals in buildings.
Of course, you can combine the different line types into one photo. But be careful not to overload the image with too many different lines, otherwise, it will quickly look restless and confusing.
Different lines that come together to make a grid or pattern can be very pleasing to the eye, especially in black and white photography.
Even so, line work is especially important in black-and-white photography. Since there are no colors in your photo, the main focus is on how it is put together.
Top left to bottom right:
Diagonals that run from top left to bottom right have a descending effect on us. They also have a calming effect and create less tension. The view is led out of the picture more quickly by the direction to the lower right.
Left down to right up:
Diagonals that run from bottom right to top left have an ascending effect on us. They create more tension, the image appears more exciting; and the viewer’s attention remains fixed on the image.
Diagonals are useful in photography because they guide the viewer’s eye through the frame. This is useful for a few reasons.
First, movement is a positive compositional element because it encourages the viewer to interact with the photos.
Second, movement guides the eye to where you want it to go, such as from the foreground to the background or from the edges to the main subject.
Check out this detailed guide on Background Tips for better Photography to improve your photos.
A diagonal line that goes down is less tense and more relaxing, but it can sometimes lead the eye away from the picture too quickly. Still, it gives the picture a lot more movement than horizontal or vertical lines can.
A diagonal line that goes up helps to keep the eye in the picture for longer and makes it more interesting. Nevertheless, it brings much more movement into the picture than horizontal or vertical lines can.
The rule of thirds and diagonals can help you figure out how to put things together. You can use either one to make beautiful compositions.
You can also use both diagonals and the rule of thirds together to make extremely powerful images by using diagonals to lead the eye into the frame toward a subject that is deliberately placed using the rule of thirds intersection points.
Tilting the camera is a quick way to create strong diagonals. The camera is then tilted so that any flat lines become diagonals.
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