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How To Use Horizontal Lines Successfully In Your Images

Learn how to use horizontal lines in your shots to enhance patterns and add interest.

|  General Photography
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Where To Find Them?

The horizon has to be the most popular horizontal line photographers shoot. It's easy to find and most of the time rather simple to shoot. Just remember to not cut your image in half, position the horizon in the top or bottom third of the image, keep it straight and try to break it up with other shapes to give your shot more interest. Fallen trees and people laid down will give you horizontal lines that are a little less obvious while frame-filling shots of lots of horizontal lines together, such as boards on sheds or even lines on stripy jumpers, will give you more abstract shots that focus on the pattern the lines create.

Somerset

Photo by David Clapp

Which Orientation?

Generally, lines which are obviously flowing in a particular direction such as left to right or up and down are best photographed in the same orientation. However, flipping to portrait when you're photographing horizontal lines can create the impression that there's so many and they're so wide that they can't fit in the frame. Where possible, shoot straight on for more impact and make sure shadows from surrounding objects, including yourself, aren't in the shot. Talking of shadows, if you're photographing something such as wooden panelling, bright sunlight can form deep shadows along the ridges of the individual planks, enhancing the shapes or even adding more lines to your frame.

Cadillac

Photo by David Burleson

Keep It Straight

Horizontal lines need to be straight or as straight as you can possibly get them for your shot to work. If they're wonky it'll just annoy the person who's viewing your shot and make them tilt their head to one side. Check the horizon is level with your frame before hitting the shutter, using a grid line that's built in to most cameras or by using a tripod with a built-in spirit level. If your tripod doesn't have one you can buy spirit levels that sit on your camera's hotshoe. You can also correct any tilting horizons in Photoshop.

BMW

Photo by David Burleson

 

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