leading lines

Photography Tip - using leading lines in composing your shots

The lines of the curb act as leading lines to the main subject, The Pier - Nikon D300 Nikkor 80-200mm @ f/5.6 ISO 200 1/500thUsing leading lines is one of my favorite composition techniques.  In the photograph of The Pier above, everything points to the main subject drawing the viewer's eye across the full length of the frame.  The entire foreground of the photograph uses the curb as a leading line to the focus of the image.  If there was no curb and just black pavement, then having such a large empty foreground would be a waste of space in the frame.  However, using the curb as a leading line adds another element of interest to the photograph besides The Pier itself.  

Additionally, I used a titled axis composition style to add yet more interest to an oft photographed St. Petersburg landmark.  

Sailboat Dreams in St. Petersburg HDR Fine Art Florida

Sailboat masts in downtown St. Petersburg Florida marina - Nikon D300 Tamron 17-50mm @ f/8 ISO 200 9-exposure HDR tripod mounted with cable releaseMy goal when making this photograph was to just show the part of the sailboat that inspires dreams.  A sailboat docked in a marina is not going anywhere, so the collection of hulls is not the part I find inspiring.  My eyes focused on the masts and in particular the long row of masts, allowing one to pick out their own particular sailboat to build a dream on.

This composition also utilized repeating patterns and leading lines.  I chose HDR for the exposure so that detail could be seen in the masts as well as the background sky maximizing the color gradient as twilight approached.

Look for repeating patterns in architecture shots

Using balconies as a repeating pattern composition - Signature St. Petersburg tower - Nikon D300 Tamron 17-50mm @ f/11 ISO 200 1/500th - black & white processing using Silver Efex ProFinding and using repeating patterns in your photographs is my photography tip for this week.  In the above photograph of Signature St. Petersburg I composed the shot to exaggerate row after row of balconies so that they came to form a repeating pattern.  I also held my camera off-angle to create a leading line with the far edge of the skyscraper and also the interior contour that leads the viewer's eye from lower right to upper left.  Thus, in this architecture shot I combined repeating patterns with leading lines in an attempt to produce an interesting photograph.

Once again using leading lines and repeating patterns to create interest - Nikon D300 Tamron 17-50mm @ f/11 ISO 200 1/200th - black & white processing in Silver Efex ProI used the exact same techniques in composing this architecture shot as well, just put into portrait orientation.  In composing and later in cropping, I paid special attention to make sure each leading line ended exactly at the edge of the frame.  Note how the lower left the line ends right into the corner, and for the small line in the upper right, just before the roof went upwards to the right, I cropped it there to keep the line straight.

Lastly, I chose black & white processing for both these images because there was cloud cover and the building itself lacks color, so no reason to leave what little color was left in the image.

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  • Safety Harbor Pier HDR & Panorama Clearwater Florida

    The view from under the Safety Harbor Pier - Nikon D300 Tamron 17-50mm f/11 ISO 200 5-exposure HDR handheld

    Due to a very low tide, I found myself with the opportunity to go under the Safety Harbor Pier.  I did not go to Safety Harbor with the express purpose of photographing it, but I of course did have my DSLR with me, but not my tripod.  The sun was still high in the sky and as you can see from the shadows starting to make its way toward the west.  A single exposure shot would not capture much of the detail under the pier itself.  However, since there was still quite a bit of available light I dared for a 5-exposure handheld HDR shot.  I highly recommend using a tripod for HDR no matter what the light, but as you can see, in a pinch, and with enough light, even a 5-exposure shot can be handheld and still produce a sharp image.

    Click for large 2000px version - Safety Harbor Pier and Tampa Bay panorama - Nikon D300 Tamron 17-50 @ f/11 ISO 200 1/400th 5-frame panoramaLacking my tripod did not stop me from also making a 5-frame panorama of Tampa Bay and the Safety Harbor Pier.  I used the gridlines in my viewfinder to keep each shot level with the horizon as I set the exposure to f/11 in aperture priority mode and rotated to make the five shots that I would later stitch together in Photoshop CS5 using the Photomerge function.

    Safety Harbor Pier HDR image - Nikon D300 Tamron 17-50mm @ f/11 ISO 200 5-exposure HDR handheldOnce again no tripod on hand, but I felt confident to be able to handhold this shot for five quick frames (using my Nikon D300's 6-frames per second burst mode) given the light available.  My composition choice came from putting the horizon in the lower third of the frame and having the pier form a leading line toward the center.

    Photography Tip - search your archives for photos you make like now

    Abandoned train car in Tampa, Florida - Nikon D300 with Nikkor AF ED 80-200mm f/2.8D @ f/2.8 ISO 200 1/2500thI have been going through my photography archives from the past three years looking for images to update my various portfolios with.  While looking for specific types of photos, I also found random photos that I had never edited, never given any attention to before, that for some reason now catch my eye (see above train photo).  This gave me the idea for . . . 

    Photography Tip -- go through your photo archives to find hidden gems & to see how your photography tastes have changed


    Not only may you find that what you think is an interesting photograph has changed, but if you have greatly improved your digital photo editing skills like I have over the past few years, you may find that you can save a photo that previously was left for the scrapheap.  

    Go through your archives this week and see if you find a forgotten photo that you now really like or even love.  Post a link to it in the comments below! 

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