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Lines and light are very important integral components of photography. Lines are veins and Light is the heart of photography.

Lines are defined by the juxtaposition of two regions with high contrast. Contrast can be determined both by differences in brightness and by diversity in colors. Lines serve two main purposes. The first one is to define shapes. The second, less trivial and most challenging, is to drive the viewer’s eye where we want to.

Lines are very powerful element in the frame leading our eyes to center of interest if used effectively and also may distract attention from it when used wrongly. Lines are very significant making a photo meaningful in  different  ways. Lines give structure to a photograph and unify elements within frame.

4.1 HORIZONTAL LINES: Horizontal lines convey the message of span, rest, peace, tranquility, stability  and   timelessness  like horizon lines of ocean, fallen trees, sleeping people. Horizontal framing of an image enhances  the effect of  horizon lines. Layers or rows horizontal lines produce the sense of rhythm in the image, but may  be monotonous also if not  broken  by  placing  other shapes like  tree, rock, mountain etc. Horizontal lines are generally used in landscapes.

4.2 VERTICAL LINES:  convey  the sense of strength, power, dignity, grandeur(tall buildings, people standing) and growth ( trees ). Vertical framing of picture enhances these qualities. Use the vertical lines  towards side line of frame as far as possible (either right or left).

4.3 DIAGONAL LINES:  are dynamic creating the sense of force, energy, motion, action, rhythm in the picture. These lines also produce the effect of depth suggesting perspective. Since our natural way of viewing images or reading is from left to right  the diagonal lines starting from the bottom left  and moving to top right of an image be more effective. But the too many diagonal lines intersecting with one another  might make the photo chaotic or confusing.

Triangular,Diagonal,horizontal lines.

 Photograph by Shivji Joshi which demonstates the triangular, horizontal & diagonal lines.

Exif Data:
Camera: NIKON D7000
Exposure Time: 1/125 sec.
Aperture Value: 6.34 EV (f/9.0)
ISO Speed Rating: 200


4.4 CURVED LINES create the sense of charm, beauty, feminine grace, smoothness, rhythm, movement. These are semi circular ,circular, S, Z, type as in female figure, sand dunes, river, pathway in field, rock.

4.5 LEADING LINES which lead our eyes to the main center of interest within frame like road, fence, row of trees, ripples in desert.

4.6 CONVERGING LINES is a very powerful kind of leading lines. Two ( Railway Track ) or more ( Ripples In Desert ) converging to a point at infinity. Converging lines create one point or linear perspective and the sense of flow, depth and distance. Wide angle focal length enhances the impact of both converging and leading lines.

Leading Lines

Photograph by Shivji Joshi which demonstates the leading lines.

Exif Data:
Camera: NIKON D80
Exposure Time:1/60 sec.
Aperture Value: 7.40 EV (f/13.0)
ISO Speed Rating: 200


4.7 IMPLIED OR INVISIBLE LINES: Lines are not always actual or visible. Such implied lines are suggested by the way the objects are placed within the frame.

Circular lines (1)

Photograph by Shivji Joshi which demonstates the circular lines.

Exif Data:
Camera: NIKON D80
Exposure Time: 1/80 sec.
Aperture Value: 7.61 EV (f/14.0)
ISO Speed Rating: 100


A photograph is a two dimensional rendition  of three dimensional world. Space, shape and form are interwoven  visual elements of a complete photograph.

SPACE: Every photograph is composed of positive and negative space. Positive space includes the objects in the photograph and the negative space is the emptiness surrounding the space.

SHAPES: Shapes are formed at the intersection of lines as squares, triangles, hexagons, circles. Positive space may  be composed of more than one shape like triangles, squares, circles. Squares and circles  being symmetrical  are not  much interesting where as  the triangular and pyramid or diamond shape subject  tend to attract viewer’s attention  more effectively.

FORM: The form in a photograph is three dimensionalty of an object and is created by light and shadow. Form is constituted by three elements viz. length, width and depth. No light no form. When dimension or volume is included in shape it becomes form. Direction and intensity control the form. Though an image is inherently two dimensional, it conveys the feeling of depth when volume is added to  it which is done by light and shadow.

TEXTURE: Texture conveys how the subject looks; is it hard or soft, smooth or rough. The angle of  light plays an important role to bring out the texture. Side lighting and backlighting makes the texture to stand out effectively. But  front lighting makes us to  feel the texture as flat and uninteresting.

COMPOSITION: The way the shape and form interact on the photographic plane, is known as composition. The space and form combine within the photograph to communicate the composition of the photo.

Shapes & Form


About the Author:
M.A.Philosophy (Gold Medalist), Ph.D., Retd.professor & Head, Dept Of Philosophy. Photography is his passion. Got more than 200 awards including Kodak, Nikon & 10 Gold medals. 20 slide shows at Singapore, MIT U.S.A., Mumbai. Ahmadabad, Varanasi,Indore etc. Published pics in ‘Popular Photography’ U.S.A., Practical Photography. Amateur Photographer England, Invited as a member of jury by Lalit Kala Academy, Lucknow and Ahmadabad and about 60 International salons held in India.

Smile Art Beats
Beats of Artistic Hearts. A Magazine from Dinesh Dinu & SMILE ART Creations team, which recognizes the hidden talents in the field of Arts & Photography.