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Sunday, March 21, 2010

Add Dynamic Power with Diagonal Lines

First, sorry that I've been away from the blog for the past week or so--just a case of spring fever and spending more time outdoors and less sitting at the computer. How I'm going to get through another summer of writing I don't know. Oh, but there is always my garden to tend in summer, so that keeps me from spending too much time at the computer. I actually haven't started a single seed indoors yet, and usually I've got a lot going by now, but I'll catch up this week--time to start those tomatoes or I'll be buying plants and I much prefer to grow my own. By the way, if you're looking for a good source of seeds, check out the Seed Savers Exchange site--a fantastic source for heirlooms seeds of all types.

OK, back to photography for a few minutes. When I was looking for an image/idea or today's post, I came across this shot of a "scarf dancer" (I don't know what her real title would be) that I shot last summer. The performer is a member of the family of acrobats that travel with Tino Wallenda and the Flying Wallendas. The thing that struck me about this shot, other than the very symbolic-looking Easter/spring colors (a good topic for another posting), were all the powerful diagonals in this shot. The ropes, her body, the scarf--all have a very powerful diagonal orientation. Even within the lines of her body are several very bold diagonal lines.

In terms of composition, diagonal lines emphasize power, strength and the feeling of impending movement--while horizontal lines, for example, bring to mind concepts of stability or balance, diagonals are better at creating a feeling that things are changing. If you look at a see-saw, for instance, you inherently know that when two people get on it, the balance is inevitably going to shift and the mind picks up on this idea whenever it sees diagonals, whether we realize it or not. You feel the same type of implied motion if you see a person walking up a hill--there is a much more dynamic feel to the scene that if you were to photograph that person walking down a flat sidewalk--yes? It's interesting to think of the psychological implications that something as simple as the direction of a line can impart to a composition and how you can change peoples' interpretations of a scene just by the way that you orient the lines within the frame. And, as with this scene, any time you multiply the number of lines, you intensify those feelings.

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