Leading lines - Not always lines
Once again, in Figure 3 below, we can see that the foreground almost acts as a finger pointing to our subject, which is the Tufa and that glorious alpenglow on the Sierra Nevada. This visual flow continues in the lean of the right most formation, which replicates the angle of the foreground rocks.
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An important consideration to remember is that leading lines don’t necessarily have to be straight – indeed they don’t even need to be lines as such! Confused? Well, just stick with me a little longer.
In all four of the above examples it would be wrong to assume that these compositions were the only ones available (and also a mistake to assume that they were the best available!). These foregrounds became my choice after carefully studying the terrain in front of me - in all four images the elements shown are just a small fraction of what was available. Perhaps that can be best be illustrated by Figure 5 at right:-
Taken at the same focal length and only a few minutes before Figure 4 it shows the wider context of which Figure 4 is just a part. The light is still good and indeed it is by no means a terrible image but it lacks the continuity and impact of the first. Why? Well it’s a lack of those leading lines – there are too many rocks here to provide the image with any structure. Our eye is left free to wander around aimlessly. The leading lines in Figures 1 to 4 aim the viewer’s eye without allowing it to wander around. This concept brings us nicely to our next area of discussion – keeping it simple.
One thing that you may have all noticed about the first 4 examples is that the foregrounds are all simple and well defined. To a great extent this is a direct function of finding those lead in lines that I am so obsessed with – but there is also a broader point to be made here which applies to general composition as much as finding those nice foregrounds. It’s a phrase often used by photographers and often forgotten by us all in the heat of “The Click”:- ‘Less is more’, which is also the principle behind #2 of Tom Boné's composition tips.
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