TAOP: Diagonals exercise

The second exercise in the ‘lines’ project continued with simple, straight, lines to look at diagonal lines.  These are easier to create within an image as they depend on viewpoint – so position and perspective can easily create diagonal lines.  There are few ‘real’ diagonals so these techniques are needed to introduce them to an image.

The exercise asks me to take four images of diagonals to add to the images I took for horizontal and vertical lines.

(ISO400, 1/100sec exposure, f/5.6 aperture – shot on aperture priority as part of the photo trip yesterday, set for quickness as because practicing with camera settings was not the objective here)

These rails alongside a staircase are a diagonal I didn’t have to do any work to create – they were essentially already there.

(ISO400, 1/100sec exposure, f/5.6 aperture – shot on same trip as above)

 Here the diagonals are created by perspective due to the  converging lines of the bridge crossing in to the distance.

Lock Gates
(ISO400, 1/80sec exposure, f/8 aperture – shot on the same trip as above but I reduced the aperture size to increase depth of field)


There are a couple of types of diagonals here – the manmade diagonals from the lock gates and their braces, and the lines of convergence due to perspective – as the lock itself goes off out of the frame.

Drystone Wall
(ISO400, 1/60sec exposure, f/5.6 aperture – again the same trip and settings as previously)

Here the diagonal lines are created by shooting along the wall toward the distance.

Summary on Diagonals

Diagonals create a greater sense of movement than horizontals and verticals; partly because they contrast from the horizontal and vertical edges of the frame, and also because they create a feeling of instability – potentially even falling.

They can catch the eye and lead the viewer towards elements of the image.  For these reasons they can be very useful devices within a composition.

Textbook examples

The final part of this exercise is to look through photographs within the textbook (Graham Clarke’s “The Photograph”) for examples of diagonals within images.

The first example I found is ‘Jealousy’ by Låszlo Moholy-Nagy.  It’s a manipulated image, and the diagonal is being used very deliberately to convey the story of the image, with a line drawn to show the direction the subjects of the image are looking in.  The image can be found  on The Tate Modern’s website.

The second image is “Grand Canyon of the Colorado” by William Henry Jackson.  I think this is a good example of a diagonal creating a sense of danger within the image, and also leading the eye clearly toward the figures in the image.  It’s a natural diagonal in this case, rather than the modified image above.  The image can be found on the Open College of the Arts website.

%d bloggers like this: