Using Vertical Lines in Photography

In Rules of Composition by PixinfocusLeave a Comment

Vertical Lines as well as diagonal lines are used in photography to add dimension and convey different emotions.

The Meaning of Vertical Lines

In order to understand the subliminal meaning of vertical lines, it is important to understand the concept first. The concept of vertical lines is similar to any other photographic technique. The purpose of photographic techniques is to create meaning and emotion in photos. Subliminal meanings are registered subconsciously when we are exposed to certain experiences. By learning this, you can use them effectively in your photos to communicate with your viewers.

Strength & Respect

Vertical lines promote feelings of strength and respect. For example, they can be seen on stone pillars. Vertical lines promote these ideas. When an individual is standing up straight and tall, we give them a level of respect and dignity. Subconsciously our brains identify vertical lines as strength, power, and respect.

Height & Infinite Capacity

They can be used to promote feelings of height and infinite capacity. When we think of fireworks shooting vertically or tall trees growing to the sky, we associate those occurrences with height and infinite reach. For this reason, vertical lines subconsciously promote these same ideas. Depending upon the angle you are viewing, they can look limitless. This also enhances the idea that vertical lines symbolize infinite possibilities.

Stability & Instability

When vertical lines appear to be thick, we perceive them as stable. When they appear to be thin, we perceive them as unstable. When you see a skyscraper with thick steel reinforcement, you view it as a sturdy structure. On the contrary, when you see thin branches on a young tree, you view them as unstable.

How to Use Vertical Lines in Your Compositions?

Thes types of lines are all around us, however, a few techniques should be learned in order to properly photograph them.

Shooting in Portrait Orientation

There are two main options when shooting photos. The first is portrait. The second is landscape. Vertical lines are best captured when using portrait. This helps to further emphasize the lines. One of the main goals when using vertical lines is to achieve the illusion of height and idea of infinity to your viewer. Portrait photos frame the vertical lines well.

It is important to note that there are always exceptions. For example, if you are trying to communicate both width and height to your viewer, landscape orientation could be the better option. For example, if you are photographing a forest with wide and tall trees, the landscape orientation can capture both characteristics. Landscape mode has the ability to capture the width and height of the trees without compromising one or the other.

Tips for Composing with Vertical Lines

There are numerous tips for composing with vertical lines. First and foremost, never place them in the center of the photo. This can cause the photo to look awkward or unusual if the lines are not perfectly symmetrical. This can disturb the balance of the photo and cause the viewer to be distracted. Instead, use the rule of thirds.

Rule of Thirds

The rule of thirds is extremely beneficial for enhancing straight lines. By splitting your photo into a 3×3 grid, you place your subject on either end of the photo. The end result will be much more aesthetically-pleasing.

Break up the Lines

Using objects to break up the lines can be helpful for adding contrast. Adding an object to break up the lines is perfect for creating a dynamic element. There are so many unique options for breaking up the lines within your photo. Often times adding an object to break up the lines will allow the photo to look more polished and cohesive.

Post Processing

There are various types of effects, cropping, and framing that can be accomplished with digital editing software. Everything from lens correction to cropping and special effects can be achieved after your photo has been taken. This step is optional and depends on each photographer’s preferences.

See more examples of vertical lines in photography here.

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