Cee’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).
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
- Week #5 Leading Lines
- Week #6 Horizontal Line and Horizons
- Week #7 Vertical Lines
- Week #8 Diagonal 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