Thursday, 26 April 2012

Dynamic Diagonals

This month, Exploring with a camera is looking at dynamic diagonals.  I love diagonals and use this a lot in my compositions - sometimes intentionally, sometimes intuitively - and love how they can draw the eye in.  However, I hadn't really considered that there were different types of diagonals.... head over to Kat's post to read the explanations.  Here's what I found in my own photography:

Primary diagonals

Top left to bottom right is the most common example of this, being the direction we read in:

I find it intriguing that the flow for the eye on the wisteria is very natural from top left to bottom right which is in contrast to the lines running on the buildings which I actually read the other way around, ie from the bottom right. Maybe because of the natural slope the building is on or maybe because the diagonal appears to start in the right hand corner? Which way do you read it?

Primary diagonals running bottom left to top right:

and although these are less common, I find that if I am consciously composing an image, this is a diagonal I am really drawn to:

Of course, as Kat says, the degree of the angle affects the overall image too.  With the examples above, the olive branch (and the toes) are a much more dynamic diagonal than the starry path.

Multiple diagonals

Multiple diagonals add an additional layer to a composition.  Here are a few I found:




I love how the zigzag draws your eye from the snow capped Alps, over the Mediterranean, landing at the beach (or do you start at the beach?). 

and less dynamically....

For me, the natural starting point for the image above is the bottom left hand corner, moving to the right and then back left as your eye progresses up the stairs.  What about you, how do you read it?

I love the sense of movement that diagonals create in an image.  Many of these examples are naturally occurring diagonals but when I'm composing an image I do consciously look for diagonals to bring interest and movement and create them where I can (for example the little toes in the bath).

I think diagonals are also really intriguing because although they guide your eye, different people read them in different ways  - on the last image, I'm going up the stairs in the way I described, but what about you, are you with me or starting at the top, on the right or left? All of these things affect the overall impact of an image and how it is interpreted by the individual eye.

You'll find lots of other examples over at Exploring with a Camera, so click on the link and come exploring. :)


  1. So many diagonals- such lovely shots. In the zig zags I started from the beach,& the bottom of the stairs.

  2. You found some great examples of diagonal lines! I love how you included structures and nature!! My favorite is the parallel shot; I just love the the blue doors!! It may be weird, but my eyes rarely start at the top of a picture unless it's a dramatic top left to bottom right. So, I started at the beach and from the bottom of the stairs. I also love the wisteria, they are so graceful in their diagonal flow!!

  3. I love all your examples - all beautiful shots. I have a soft spot for that gorgeous olive branch. The blue shutters and olive branches composition is so poetic and I love the steps on the last shot. Those little toes in the bath are so cute and dynamic at the same time and the palm trees are great too!
    You've done a wonderful job!

  4. You hit the nail on the head here: "All of these things affect the overall impact of an image and how it is interpreted by the individual eye." There is way more to diagonals that just your eye following them left to right, isn't there? Great images for this exploration. Thanks for joining in!

  5. lovely snaps my dear! mediterranean colors and lighting is so beautiful so inspiring!
    i was alps to beach... what does that say about me?
    have a wonderful weekend! xo tracie

  6. I loved reading this post. So informative. Thank you!
    For the stairs I always read it as bottom to top.. no matter where the diagonal starts from.
    And the pic of the Alps and the beach. I looked straight at the beach first. I guess maybe because it covered more area.
    Have a great day!

  7. P.S. Love the name of your blog :)

  8. I think the best part of Kat's "Exploring" series is getting to see so many great examples by others! My favorites in your set are the street leading to that arch, and the last one of the steps. These definitely draw my eye further into the image.

  9. These are wonderful examples of diagonals Becs.
    I especially love the way you composed the first one.
    So nicely done!
    I wish you a great weekend ahead!

  10. Becs - great job of finding effective diagonals in your images. I love how you have pointed out the way your own eye moves through an image - and the fact that each of us can see it differently. No matter what - diagonals pulls us in. Love your zig-zags - very dynamic. And the parallel palms.


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