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Phil Douglis | profile | all galleries >> Gallery Fifty One: Using diagonals for guidance, energy, and meaning tree view | thumbnails | slideshow

Gallery Fifty One: Using diagonals for guidance, energy, and meaning



If you study my gallery on photographic composition (Gallery Nine), you will notice that many of my examples stress the importance of diagonal flow as a key element of composition. I consider diagonal flow so important that I am adding this gallery, devoted entirely to this critical component of photographic composition.

Diagonals not only can guide the viewer’s eye through an image --- they can also energize it and change what might otherwise be a static image into a dynamic one. I often read that diagonals make pictures “more interesting to the eye,” but I like to go beyond mere interest and instead use diagonals to help tell a story, organize subject matter for coherence, and build rhythms that can create emotional response.

There many different ways to create diagonal flow. We can find subjects that already may have diagonals in them. Or we can create diagonal flow ourselves by tilting the camera (as long as no horizon is involved) so that a subject flows from corner to corner instead of from side to side. Corner to corner flow creates a line of power and thrust that emphatically emphasizes our point. We can also isolate and link repeating diagonals, sweep them from corner to corner, or use them elsewhere within the frame. We can even make use of diagonals created by the interplay of light and shadow, or arrange flows of specific colors in diagonal fashion.

I begin this gallery with a group of images using diagonals that I made in Vietnam at the end of 2007 and the beginning of 2008. I hope to add additional examples of diagonal flow from images made on future trips as well.

I present this gallery in "blog" style. A large thumbnail is displayed for each image, along with a detailed caption explaining how I intended to express my ideas. If you click on the large thumbnail, you can see it in its full size, as well as leave comments and read the comments of others. I hope you will be able to participate in the dialogue. I welcome your comments, suggestions, ideas, and questions, and will be delighted to respond.