Skip to content

Cee’s Compose Yourself Photo Challenge: Week #7 Vertical Lines

banner-compose-yourself-challengeCee’s Compose Yourself Photo Challenge (CCY) will be a combination weekly “tips and tricks” combined with a photo challenge.  

To find out who was awarded the Gold Star Award and Features for this week, please see CCY Week 6 – Gold Star Award and Features (Leading Lines).

To find out more how to enter this challenge check CCY Home page.

This week’s CCY Theme is Vertical Lines.


Vertical lines are the natural compliment to the horizontal lines we talked about last time. Like horizontal lines, they have a significance and meaning of their own that can be quite powerful when used intentionally in a photograph.  Vertical lines can create a strong focal point in a picture. Strong vertical lines show height, strength, and power. You can emphasize those characteristics by using your vertical lines carefully.

When we look at a photo, our eyes start at the left and scan to the right, usually following the horizon. If the eye encounters a vertical line, it stops to assess the scene. Vertical lines force the eye upward or downward, giving height to the picture. (Note: If your viewer has a native language where the script runs right to left, your viewer’s eye has been trained to scan in that direction, but the same principles of horizontal and vertical lines still apply.)

You can also use a vertical line to split your picture in two, or to separate two objects, or to highlight contrast like sunny and shadow.

Vertical vs horizontal lines: if your photo has a landscape orientation, look for a horizontal line of focus. Landscapes with a vertical line create less of a feeling of power and height but can still draw the viewer’s eye. If you are doing a portrait orientation, use vertical lines to make the picture look taller, bigger.

As with horizontal lines, try to keep your vertical lines as straight as possible.  If in question, the horizon is normally the line to keep straight.

A vertical line doesn’t necessarily have to be a structure like a flagpole or a building. It just has to be something that creates the illusion of a vertical line, like a furrow in a field or a line of trees in a orchard.

This will be your bonus exercise for the Gold Star Award.  Here is a case study of how vertical lines work or don’t work in a photograph. I’ll show a series of changes to a photograph and talk about what works and what doesn’t.

Here I’ve cropped a photo, trying to use the woman photographer as my vertical line. It sounded like a good idea, but it didn’t work. The black of her hair and her pants faded into the imagined frame of the photograph and you mentally subtract them from the shot. Her red top blends into the colors of the tulip. I’ve lost my vertical line.


In the next shot, I’ve cropped out a lot of the subject matter to make her the focal point, but the picture doesn’t make sense. It looks like she’s taking a picture of the people in front of the hazelnut grove.


I cropped again, just leaving her in the picture. Boring! Why would anyone take a picture of someone’s back?


It’s time to go back to the basics, the original shot, taken at the Wooden Shoe Tulip Farm. Mt. Hood is in the background. Now you can see the entire picture, and the scene makes sense. She’s taking a picture of her friend, the flowers, and the mountain in the background.


Let’s go back to the first shot you saw, where the clothes didn’t work to create a strong vertical line. What if we darken her bag to create a stronger vertical line?  Better because the black pants, dark purse and dark hair is starting to create your vertical line.


Can we crop it now to create a stronger vertical line and still tell the story?


We’re getting there, but now we see those annoying women standing in the rear of the frame. What happens when we take them out? Now we have a strong vertical line on the left, our horizontal lines of flowers and trees, a diagonal line at the bottom of the frame (her shadow) leading us to an implied vertical line (her friend with the mountain behind her).


Your Turn

Show us 4 to 6 photos show strong vertical lines, using both portrait and landscape.

Also, take a photo of a strong vertical line in the standard landscape then flip the orientation to portrait and take another photo. Don’t move or change any settings on your camera and see what the differences are. How does the feel of the photo change? No cropping for this part of the exercise.

Extra credit for Gold Star Award

Use a photo where there is a vertical line that doesn’t seem to work right. Play around with cropping your image or change the photo orientation to get a better perspective. And if you are capable of higher editing feel free to do so to fix your photo.  As a minimum show us your original and end product.

Current Series – All About Lines

The Next Series – The Rule of Thirds

  • Week #9 Right or Left 1/3 of your photo frame
  • Week #10 Top or Bottom 1/3 of your photo frame
  • Week #11 Using 2/3 of your photo frame
  • Week #12 Critique My Work – I will give show you a couple of photos and you can either copy them and correct the compositional errors or write a post about how I got things wrong or right.


My Entry for the Week

For galleries, click on any photo to see larger size.

For the second part of today’s challenge here is a photo of our backyard I took at the standing in the same place.  One is landscape and the other is portrait.  I like the portrait better, because it really makes the grassy area look longer than thinner like a wide walkway.  It also shows the lines of our patio and cropped out the table in portrait.  It also made it look a little brighter because it doesn’t have as much as the house and shadow under the eaves.  The landscape makes the yard look shorter and slightly wider.

My Extra-Credit Photos

See my essay above for my extra credit entry.

Qi (energy) hugs


55 replies »

  1. I love the foggy bridge photo. The image brings me to a whole different time. Old London like. 🙂 All photos were amazing! 🙂


  2. Golly, Cee–I really enjoyed your lesson in vertical photography. Using that one photo to show why your changes were not working was super. Thanks so much!


    • That was Chris collaborating with me. I found the photo and thought it might work, although I wasn’t really happy with it. Then she started identifying why it didn’t work so we kept tweaking it. It was fun. 😀

      Liked by 2 people

  3. I love all your photos with vertical lines in the landscapes, especially the tulips. I hope I can find something to practice this concept on!


  4. Thanks Cee, You are really getting me thinking about the composition of shots. I enjoyed reading your thought process on cropping. Had fun this this! Actually the struggle I am having at the moment is the new posting editor! I am struggling to size my photos for the post as I did before. I am sure I will get used to it soon!
    Here’s my effort for the Vertical challenge


    • I am still lucky enough I can use the old layout. If I had to use the new one, I would go bananas. Are you strictly on mobile or Laptop or Desktop?


        • You might be able to get the old view, once you save your post. Then go to All Posts and then find the post (should be on top) and do an “edit” and you might get the old version. I know I still do. So you can name your post then hit the “save draft” button and you can use the older version (gray screen) instead of the new blue one that is like the Reader version. See if it works for you.


          • Thanks Cee. I might be talking about the last “New” version. The bee boop version. I think when I started it had just come in and people were a bit flummoxed like I am now. Because it is the only one I knew I had no probs. I can still get into the version in Admin which is slightly different again “black version” It is the ” Blue version” which seems to have been updated. lol does that make any sense what so ever?


Pick Me Up

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 11,878 other subscribers

Blog Stats

  • 2,101,121 hits

CFFC – Tuesday

CFFC challenge runs weekly on Tuesday.

CMMC – Wednesdays

CBWC – Thursdays

CB&W challenge runs weekly on Thursdays.

FOTD – Daily

A Listing of Challenges


Copyright notice © Cee Neuner (aka Christine R Neuner) and blog.  All content of this website is the sole property of Cee Neuner. Please contact the owner for use of any image or text from this website.

%d bloggers like this: