Leading lines are one of the most powerful tools for creating high impact iPhone photos. When used correctly, they add wonderful depth by drawing the eye deep into the image. Our students in the iPhone Photo Masters course have been busy using leading lines for their composition assignment, and I was so impressed by their photos that I’ve decided to share and review some of them here. In this article you’ll discover ten highly effective ways to use leading lines in your iPhone photos.
Jeremy Searle – iPhone Photo Masters Student
1. Use Road Markings
Jeremy Searle – iPhone Photo Masters Student
Roads make excellent leading lines, and Jeremy’s done a great job of creating a strong composition on a gray, foggy day. The yellow line provides wonderful color contrast against the darker surroundings, instantly grabbing your attention.
The lines add a fantastic sense of depth, and the gentle curve creates a flow within the image that draws the eye from the foreground into the distance.
The bend in the road adds an intriguing element to the photo because we can’t see what’s around the corner. Coupled with the thick fog, this creates a wonderfully mysterious image.
Shooting from a low angle with the iPhone held close to the road’s surface was an excellent choice. Not only does it capture the detail and texture of the road, but it also emphasizes the perspective of the parallel yellow lines.
When photographing parallel lines like this, the lower you shoot from, the more quickly they appear to converge together. This increases the perception of depth and distance, creating a very powerful composition.
2. Create Depth & Symmetry
Jude Dundas – iPhone Photo Masters Student
Using a straight path or road in your photos allows you to create amazing symmetry and incredible depth. Your eye can’t help but follow the lines into the distance!
To create this symmetrical composition, Jude positioned herself centrally so that the path ran down the middle of the photo.
If she’d taken this shot from slightly further forward, it wouldn’t have had the same impact. But from this viewpoint she was able to include the handrails in the photo, creating extra leading lines that emerge from the corners of the composition.
When composing photos with leading lines, always think about where the lines will start from in your photo. It often works best to have the lines emerging from the corners of the frame. You might need to change your shooting angle, or take a few steps forward or back, to get the lines where you want them.
Finally, having a subject at the end of a leading line, such as the structure at the end of this path, helps to create a strong focal point in the image.
3. Lead The Eye To The Subject
Evelyne Sieber – iPhone Photo Masters Student
Here’s another symmetrical composition created using leading lines. What I love about this photo is that the vertical posts act as a continuation of the lines on the jetty, suddenly changing direction to point upwards.
So rather than the lines leading your eye into the distance where there’s not much detail, they lead directly to the main subjects of the photo – the birds.
Without the birds in the scene, this photo wouldn’t have as much impact. When you spot a scene like this, you either need to be quick so that you don’t miss the moment, or you need to wait patiently for an interesting subject to appear.
Evelyne’s black and white conversion was a good choice here. It helps to emphasize the contrast and pattern of the lines through the image, and removes the distraction of color from the background.
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4. Use Lines To Create Flow
Luis Fernandez – iPhone Photo Masters Student
Leading lines don’t always have to lead from the front to the back of the image. This is a great example of a composition where the lines run from one side of the image to the other.
There are so many lines in this photo that lead your eye from one place to another – on the floor, the walls, and the ceiling. Even the lights lead your eye across the image.
While these are all powerful leading lines, the photo wouldn’t be very interesting if Luis hadn’t included the woman walking through the scene. She provides a strong focal point and adds a sense of movement to the image.
I love the choice of shooting angle that Luis has used for this shot. The lines all lead in the direction that the woman is walking, adding to the overall sense of movement and flow through the scene.
5. Lead The Eye Into The Distance
James Heck III – iPhone Photo Masters Student
This path creates a beautiful leading line that draws the eye through the trees and deep into the image. Fall is a great time of year for taking shots like this.
The colorful leaves on the ground help to brighten up the foreground, as well as creating visual interest and texture that catches the viewer’s eye. Without the fallen leaves, this path would appear very dark and it would be difficult to differentiate between the path and the railings.
I like the way that James has created an off-center composition, standing slightly to one side so that only the railing on the right emerges from the corner. This choice of shooting angle emphasizes the slight curve of the path, and creates a more organic and natural leading line.
6. Use Shadows As Leading Lines
Fiona Grose – iPhone Photo Masters Student
This photo contains many wonderful lines that lead the eye into and around the image. The path draws your eye through the forest, and the tall trees lead your eye up to the top of the frame. But what makes this photo extra special are the shadows in the foreground.
These long shadows cast by the trees create powerful lines that lead your eye right from the very front of the image. This creates extra depth and a stronger sense of flow within the scene.
While this would have been a lovely photo without the shadows, Fiona made a great choice to go out shooting when the sun was low in the sky so that she could include these fantastic shadows in her composition.
7. Use Color To Emphasize Lines
Janice McEwan – iPhone Photo Masters Student
This dirt path might not initially be considered as a strong leading line. There are no straight lines or edges, and there are no railings along path. However, what makes this path stand out as a powerful leading line within the landscape is its color.
The contrast between the orange path and the green trees and grass creates a distinct boundary that leads the eye from the foreground directly toward the person and mountains in the distance.
To illustrate this point, below is a black and white version of the image. While you can still make out the path because of the difference in brightness, it doesn’t have anywhere near as much impact as the color version.
Janice made a good choice to keep this photo in color. Boosting the saturation a little in post-processing to make the colors more vivid really makes the image “pop.”
Why don’t you challenge yourself to find as many leading lines as you can that contrast in color with their surroundings?
8. Experiment With Different Viewpoints
Jim Zack – iPhone Photo Masters Student
This photo has so many lines! Jim could have gone for the obvious shot and created a symmetrical composition by shooting down the length of the path. But he chose a more unusual perspective, shooting from the side of the water.
This produced a much more interesting image because he was able to capture the reflection of the fence in the water. The reflection acts as an additional leading line that helps to lead the eye into the distance.
Whenever you spot a leading line in a scene, always experiment with different shooting perspectives and angles. By exploring the location and trying out different compositions, you’ll have more chance of creating interesting and unique images.
A black and white edit was a good choice for this photo. Not only does it help the vertical lines of the fenceposts to stand out, but it also removes the distraction of colors in the busy background.
9. Use Lines To Create Abstracts
Stella Oliver – iPhone Photo Masters Student
While we often use lines to lead the eye to a particular point in the scene, they can also be used to create amazing abstract images. In this photo, the ripples in the sand on a shoreline create a beautiful abstract that focuses on the lines, textures and colors in the scene.
When using lines to create an abstract, make sure you fill the entire frame with the lines so that you don’t get any of the surroundings in the photo.
The direction of the lines in the photo can have a big impact on the final image, so experiment with different shooting angles until you achieve a pleasing composition. It often works best to have the lines leading diagonally across the image.
By shooting from a low angle and having the lines emerge from the bottom corner of the frame, Stella has created a powerful abstract image with wonderful depth and detail.
10. Look For Lines In Unusual Places
Bill Carito – iPhone Photo Masters Student
While leading lines are usually easy to find in landscapes, they can be found in many other places too. This photo is an excellent example of making the most of leading lines where you might not normally think to look for them.
By shooting from a high vantage point, Bill has managed to use these lighting cables to create a composition with strong leading lines.
While the two foreground lights are the main subjects, the gentle curves of the cables lead your eye into and around the image, drawing your attention to different parts of the scene.
This photo just goes to show how you can use leading lines to create a visually appealing photo in the most ordinary of situations.
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