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Photographing Diagonal Lines In Landscape Shots

Techniques > Photographing Diagonal Lines In Landscape Shots

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Category: Landscape and Travel

Diagonal Lines - Have you used diagonal lines in your landscape shots? If not, here are a few reasons why you should.

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Diagonal Lines
Photo by David Clapp.

We've spoke before on how lines are great tools for guiding the eye through an image but don't think these have to always be horizontal or vertical as quite often, diagonal lines can add more interest and depth, guiding the eye across the image.

Where To Find Them

Rivers, walls and cracks in ice are just three examples of how you can create diagonals within your landscape shots. Just remember you may have to alter the angle, height or position you're working at to see these natural elements take on the shape you need.


The eye often looks at the bottom left of an image first before working across the shot to the top right corner so by having a line which follows this path, intercepting interesting elements as it goes will unknowingly guide the viewer through your shot. They're particularly useful in shots where you have lots and lots of different elements that without a 'guide' would just look chaotic and the eye wouldn't know what to look at first. Try using multiple diagonals to guide the eye to one spot in the image by intersecting them where you want the attention to fall.

Split In Two

If you position your diagonal so it flows from one corner to another your shot can look like it's split in two and won't work right compositionally. Instead, try shifting the line up slightly so it starts just above the bottom corner instead.

How Many Is Too Many?

Don't get too carried away using too many diagonals as your shot will just end up looking busy the eye won't know where to focus. However, a few repetitive lines such as those left by a tractor in a field or the shapes left in sand by the wind can work well as abstract landscape shots. Just shoot from a higher view point and use a longer focal length with a smaller aperture to maximise depth of field. At the coast, try photographing footprints left in wet sand or the patterns left by the tide as it moves down the beach.

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