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Compose Your Nature Photograph with Lines and Curves

By Doug Sahlin

Lines are a powerful element you can use when composing your digital nature photos. A line acts like an arrow, drawing your viewer to a specific part of your image.

Nature has lots of lines. Tree trunks are vertical lines and wildflowers are horizontal lines. You also find diagonal lines in nature.

Diagonal lines are more interesting than vertical and horizontal lines. When you compose a scene, look for a diagonal line that can be used to direct the viewer’s eye. A diagonal in a corner of the frame is a natural lead-in to your image.

Sometimes you can use diagonals in conjunction with verticals. For example, diagonal shadows from trees draw your viewer’s eye to the trunks of the trees, which are vertical lines.

You can also use curves when composing your photos. A natural S-curve can be used to lead your viewer’s eye through the image. You find curves on paths through forests, the spine of a mountain range, or the graceful curvature of a bird’s neck.

Use a curve to lead your viewer to the focal point of your image (see the figure). Get the most bang for your buck by placing your focal point on a power point according to the Rule of Thirds and have the curve lead the viewer to the focal point.