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Architectural Photography Composition - Line Dynamics

Using line dynamics in architectural photography could be referred to as the art of adding drama to an image and thus attracting the viewer's attention using lines or patters.

In a two dimensional representation, such as a photograph or a print, lines in a picture that are not parallel with the edges of the frame are called dynamic lines.

line dynamics in architectural photography composition
line dynamics in architectural photography composition

Lines at angles closer to 45° which is half way between vertical and horizontal have the most impact.

Human mind naturally seeks balance, that is how we know the world around us;  both vertical and horizontal lines help us garner a sense of balance. Vertical lines represent gravitational stability while horizontal lines represent a sense of level, supporting flatness. Together they produce a deeply satisfying resolved feeling, maybe coz together they appeal to the basic human experience of absolute balance that is of standing erect on level ground.

In contrast to vertical and horizontal lines, diagonal lines implies a sense of tension, something that is dynamic, in motion, with invisible forces acting on multiple axis es. They upset our sense of perfect balance.

It is important to understand that the we could attempt to make an image dynamic by tilting the camera 45°. This deliberate tilting converts otherwise perfect vertical or horizontal lines into dynamic lines. For example consider a street lamp shot this way, it will appear as if the lamp is going to fall any moment, we feel an extreme sense of uneasiness looking at the picture. As all the time our subconscious mind is looking for alternatives to counter the image's effect on our sense of gravitational normality.

Those dynamic lines that exist naturally within our compositions (without tilting the camera) have more or less the same effect on the human mind, but they are much less disturbing as there are other elements in the frame that out mind could depend on to achieve balance.

If needed we could purposefully enhance line dynamics of a building and thus exaggerate perspective when shooting from an angle by moving closer to the building and using a wider angle lens to capture the view. The wider the lens angle is, the greater the perspective distortion and greater the line dynamics.

In the next article we will discuss the third element that is to be considered while composing architectural shots - Perspective

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