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Composition - Leading Lines

Original article:  Composition - Leading Lines

Being Independent
The last few trips I've taken have been in the fanciful styling of 'Independent Backpacker'. It's a romantically glorious title for those fairly adventurous souls that forego booking with a tour group and strike out on their own. Relying on the whims of the road, their own creative instincts and oh yes, an 'off-the-beaten-tract' travel guidebook. There is something to be said for not having a strict tour schedule that starts at 5am and gives you only 30 minutes to run around the most picturesque lake you've seen in your life.

Photographers know too well the value of flexibility and patience in trying to get that award winning shot. As an 'Independent Backpacker' you can set your own schedule, your own destinations and your own time tables. If you are like me, the downside is that you have to set your own schedule, your own destinations and your own time tables. This involves advanced research and planning - 'you mean I have to read?'. After a while having to research the travel guidebook, plan and schedule every detail of your trip gets tiresome. And as much as I try to make that heavy travel guidebook interesting reading while waiting for a ridiculously late bus it just isn't. Now the reason behind this article isn't in traveling but in photography and compositions. Just as a weary traveler wants to toss his guidebook and be lead, at times the viewer wants to be 'guided' through your picture.

Guide Me
That is the purpose of Leading Lines in the composition of a photograph. The natural s-curve lines of a river running off into distant mountains act as tour guide to the landscape of your photograph. It can draw your viewer into the picture and lead to the main subject matter of the photograph. The boardwalk through the rainforest in Cape Otway, Victoria, Australia served as guide both in person and in the above photograph. With it there was no mistaking where to go, no topographical maps needed, no deciphering cryptic trail signs, no getting lost.

Things as large as rainforests are always daunting as a photographic subject to me. Large and impossible to capture in full, the tendency is to come back with a jumbled image of a mass of trees. In this case I looked for a place in the boardwalk that had an interesting curve and features that spoke 'rainforest' (ferns and trees). I composed the boardwalk to lead in from the bottom and finish near the top.

Go ahead... be independent and a guide to your viewer!

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