How to Use Leading Lines in Landscape Photography

Landscape photography often includes many objects and a wide angle of sight. For a landscape composition to be more easily perceptible, certain techniques might be applied. One of the basic techniques that a photographer can use is the usage of leading lines. This helps the recipient of the work to focus their sight with more ease on the crucial points of the composition and thus have a better art experience. It is also called “drawing the viewer” and it consists of several basic principles. Leading lines allow a wide field for experiments, but too precise landscape compositions may look unnatural.

Step 1 - Using Leading Lines to Create Depth

This is a conventional method to enhance the exploration of a landscape picture. In a natural environment, there are many natural lines that lead the viewer's eye to the depth of the landscape. Classic examples of this version of leading lines are all kinds of paths, straight or curvy, fences, ropes, bridges and so on. Using leading lines in these cases serves to create the feeling of depth and descriptive or narrative extra effects to the picture.

Step 2 - Using Leading Lines to Lead the Viewer's Eye

This method serves to create a more geometrical look of the composition of the picture. Geometrical in the sense that it helps the viewer go through it and explore the different parts of the landscape. This type of leading line can be used to create rather artistically beautiful images, rather than the narrative look of the photo. For example, such a line could be a straight electricity wire, or a curvy path contouring a hill.

Step 3 - Using Leading Lines to Focus on an Object

Similar to the previous types, this kind of leading line may create narratives or descriptive images, but they also guide the eye to a concrete object, such as a fence ending at a house or a row of similar objects, “leading” to the one, situated in the front of the composition. The goal in this particular case would be to focus on the specifics of the focused object, with the extra effect of contrast between a repetitiveness and particularity. In these cases, the notable feature of the composition would not be the insertion of a leading line, but the focal object(s), to which it guides the viewer.

Step 4 - Using Leading Lines to Create Contrast

Contrast may be an extra effect when using other types of leading lines, but there is a way to insert it intentionally. Determine the distinction between two or more objects by using the leading line as a separator. A classic example of this use is a wall or fence, dividing two or more parts of the composition, intended to create different mood or thoughts. Breaking the entity of a picture adds a more artistic look, but also enables the author to insert powerful messages and ideas.