Art of Photography

Rob Townsend

Exercise – Horizontal and vertical lines [take 2]

2 Comments

I did this exercise earlier today but decided after posting that I wasn’t happy with it, as the subjects chosen were too obvious. So I’ve redone it. The original post is still there, in the interests of honesty!

Brief:

Find four examples of horizontal and four examples of vertical lines. The line should be prominent and ideally be the first thing the viewer would see. Make note of the different ways in which horizontal and vertical lines appear to the eye and the camera.

Equipment:

Canon EOS 650D with EF 18-200mm f/3.5 lens; Leica X1 24mm.

Results:

Horizontals first:

Horizon

Horizon

Yachts

Yachts

Skirting

Skirting

Canopies

Canopies

In redoing this exercise I made more of an effort to find horizontal lines that weren’t too literal. I looked for images where the horizontal line was clearly identifiable, but was at least in part brought out by the composition that I chose. Once my eyes were opened to this concept, I did manage to find four examples where the horizontal line is visible.

Now onto the verticals:

Palm tree

Palm tree

Pillars

Pillars

Kerbstones

Kerbstones

Tower

Tower

Second time around I was looking out for examples where the vertical aspect of the image was clearly evident, without it being simply a photo of a vertical line. I am happier with this second attempt, as these are all photos of something (rather than abstract lines) but the vertical element is clearly identifiable.

What I’ve learned:

The learnings are broadly the same as my first go at this exercise, so I will repeat them here.

I’ve learned that horizontal and vertical lines are everywhere, once you start seeking them out. They aren’t always easy to isolate and make the central element in an image, but when they are, the resultant images can have an appealing simplicity and solidity.

Horizontal line images seem ‘heavier’, more grounded, especially when the line is in the lower portion of the image. They exhibit a stillness that can be quite calming.

Vertical line images also have this static quality to them, but not in exactly the same way. The vertical lines that literally come up out of the ground (the tree, the tower) have an implied solidity to them. I found the vertical images to divide the frame more, as maybe I naturally read images from left to right; the line stops the natural flow of the eye from left to right and marks a transition point in the image.

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2 thoughts on “Exercise – Horizontal and vertical lines [take 2]

  1. I am currently doing this exercise! I thought it would be a breeze, but I am glad to see that others are finding it tricky too! Many thanks for your comments re my assignment 1 – you have no idea how much such things help me! Actually, perhaps you do….

    • Ha, I do! I just got my report on Assignment 2 and was very relieved to see that it was pretty good, barring a few technical issues that I think I can iron out. I’d better write up a post on it before I forget (I’m finding it a little tough to find the time for the course at the moment…)

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