June 23, 2018

The Use of the Diagonal Line in Photo Composition

Crit 0001 Carlene Ehlers Final

I received this photo on the left from Carlene Ehlers from South Africa. She has also submitted several other photos, which I will try to critique over time.

She saw the empty bottle in the crevice, realized the potential of the bottle to be of artistic value, and of course, took the photo.

Her question is: “How can I improve the photo”.

Before giving my comments, I want to stress that I endeavor to give an objective opinion. If you give the same photo, or photo opportunity, to the next person, the composition may be totally different, as well as the critique.

I am trying to keep the critique as simple and practical as possible.. The whole idea behind it, is that you as photographer can take the information, work with it, and try to apply it to your own photography in easy and practical steps.

In the illustration below you will find a red arrow (A) on the left and (B) on the right. They both represent the imaginary line the eye travels in the photo. Carlene made the right decision to compose the bottle diagonally. However, if you look at the red arrow A, you will see that the eye will enter the photo in the left parallel and exit in the right parallel. This illustrates that the original composition creates negative (unused) space in the bottom left and in the top right.

By rotating the camera so that the imaginary line (B) goes from bottom left to top right, the eye enters the photo bottom left and follows right through to the top right, therefore utilizing the full diagonal space.

If you compare the length of line A to the length of line B, you will also realize how much longer the eye remains in the photo.

By rotating the subject, the label is also repositioned in the top right intersect of the top 1/3 and the right 1/3 lines of composition. This is the strongest composition point to place your focal point. The label automatically becomes the center of focus.

I also created a subtle vignette on the edges to put more focus on the subject.

By applying one of the rules of composition (diagonal line), and a vignette, you can see how the impact of the photo has changed.

If you have any questions regarding the above, please do not hesitate to contact me. If you want to submit some of your own photos for critique, you are welcome to do so.

Crit 0001 Carlene Ehlers Final Copy

Submit your own photos for critique

I want to extend an open invitation to everyone who wants me to comment on the composition in their own photos to send it to me. It will then discuss on this blog-site. In the process we all will learn from it. Photos can be sent to photos@fcschwartz.com. Just a few rules, it must be family friendly, and by submitting the photos you grant permission that the material may be used for training purposes, digitally, in print or any other media.

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