Art of Photography

Rob Townsend

Exercise – Curves



Find four examples of curves that emphasise movement and direction. The curve should be prominent and ideally be the first thing the viewer would see. Make note of the different ways in which curves appear to the eye and the camera.


Canon EOS 650D with EF 18-200mm f/3.5 lens.


Sea wall

Sea wall

Sea wall: a classic example of shooting from above and relatively wide (24mm) to really emphasise the sweep of the curve in the road. It gives a good feeling of depth to the image.



Piano: a low and close take on the sweeping side of a grand piano, to emphasise its curves. To me this evokes the sense of listening to it being played, the ebb and flow of the notes (if that doesn’t sound too synesthetic!)



Drapes: I saw two complementary curves in this image: the drapes themselves, and the shaded arch created above it by the lighting.



Staircase: a little similar in style to the sea wall image, but this time working in the vertical dimension. For this I shot from low down and wide (18mm) to get as much of the bottom-to-top sweeping curve in the frame. I see a secondary set of curves in the metalwork of the railings, in a rhythm that is reminiscent of footsteps up and down the stairs. There is a further set of curves in the leaves of the plants to the lower right.

What I’ve learned:

I found this exercise similar to the diagonals in as much as I found myself seeing examples everywhere I wasn’t expecting too; the world is full of curves (or certainly the part of it I’m in). I tried to limit my shooting to those images where the curve added a sense of movement and/or depth, and helped to guide the viewers eye around the picture.

As with the diagonals, the images that I felt were more successful were the ones that encouraged the viewer to move around the picture in a particular way. Curves help to do this in a similar way to diagonals, if a little less directly.

As with the last two exercises, I am increasingly aware of how the photographer can influence the reaction on the part of the viewer through the choice of specific elements of graphic design. It’s becoming clearer to me when, and how, to use different kinds of lines to drive the eye around the image.


2 thoughts on “Exercise – Curves

  1. The staircase picture could actually be the kick-off to this project I once told you about:

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