Implied Lines

The previous exercises on horizontal, vertical, diagonal and curved lines have demonstrated how strong and active lines encourage the eye to follow them. Taking the concept further, we can use implied, or imagined, lines to try and guide the viewers attention in a more subtle way.

Part 1 of this exercise was to examine two images and identify the implied lines:

N.B The original images are copied from the OCA TOAP assignment

Here we see the original images and then the annotated images showing the implied lines. In the bull fighter image, the strongest line is clearly generated by the charge of the bull and the dust caused by his motion. The capture of the matadors movement support this implied line by guiding the eye back around and into the main action area of the image. Similar characteristics can be seen with the horses being trained. The motion of the horses are creating a line the appears to be heading out of the frame but this is then balanced by the directions of the horses heads. The combination of the lines create an imagined curve taking the eye around to the trainer. The trainers apparent motion and posture again directs us by into the action.

Having studied these images, three images of my own have been selected to try and identify implied lines:

This image was selected as it demonstrates similar characteristics to the two images above. The motion of the crocodile guides the eye upwards towards it’s prey and this is supported by the motion of the zoo keeper coming into the image. Unlike the images above, there are no additional lines to cycle the eye back around leaving the bottom right hand corner empty.

In this image, I felt that there was a very visible diagonal that was being supported by additional implied lines. In the foreground, the fence is a strong visible line taking the eye up to the mount. Once my eye reaches the mount, the intended subject of the image, I found my eye started to drift to the right of the picture. It is to the right that I felt that the combination of the shore line and the clouds then direct the eye back into the picture.

This image has a number of subtle lines that guide the eye. The motion created in the water and the boat itself lead the eye into the picture, the tree line takes over and finally the steam guides the eye upwards.

The last part of the exercise was to take two images with specific types of implied lines – an eye-line and the extension of a line or lines that point.

This image demonstrate an eye line. As the image is scanned, the human face is the first thing to be noticed and then the gaze guides us to the water coming in from the ocean.

In this image, it was captured with the intention of the boat pointing to the loan tree on the hill. The boat doesn’t point directly at the tree but does guide the eye in the general direction. The tree is acting as a point in the image so would probably be strong enough to capture the eyes attention but the horizon line is providing an extra piece of guidance. With this image, I think the tree is probably to small for it to work really well and the brightness and size of the boat is over-powering. However, I felt that the demonstration of the idea made it worth including in my learning log.

As a side note, earlier this week, I was attending a photography competition at my local camera club and the judge was very keep on lines. There were a number of occasions when he mentioned that unless there is a human face in the image our eye would tend to lead into the image in the way we would read a book. For me, this is from the top left corner (although that isn’t the case in all cultures). Keeping this in mind, it could strengthen this last image.


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