The “eye flow” in a photo is the path the viewer’s eyes take as they enter the image, studies it, and leads eye within the picture. The longer the photographer gets the viewer to study the image, the more it proves the photographer’s use of lines was handled well.
The strategic use of lines can greatly enhance a composition.
- Vertical lines imply strength, dominance and stature.
- Horizontal lines imply rest, leisure and sleep.
- Diagonal lines imply movement and speed.
- Receding lines lead the viewer to the point where the lines converge or leave the composition.
- Curved lines are graceful, leading and peaceful.
A favourite line I like is the S curve. It’s a graceful and gentle line that leads the viewer through the image in a peaceful and quiet way.
Meandering roads, rivers, streams, paths through a forest are classic examples. The flow of the line brings the viewer on a soft journey through the picture. It’s very natural for the viewer to follow the line as it wanders through the composition.
The two images presented here are good examples. They were created at Kudremukh National Park, India during a rainy foggy day.
The entry and exit point of the S curve is very important. Have it end where an important element resides, so the viewer follows the curving line to a specific subject. This is where the B&W photo above lacks impact despite having the similar elements. It leads eye to a hidden spot without any important element to latch on.
The S curve and the use of perspective can be used to create a very dynamic image. As the line continues throughout the photo, have it receded into the distance, so it has a natural exit point. This can be accomplished if you position yourself at an angle somewhere along the curve where this can occur. Another way to accomplish this is through the strategic use of a wide-angle lens. Get down low at the point you want the curve to begin. The foreground will be larger and quickly recede into the distance. The obvious entry point will be the dominant foreground and the eye will naturally follow it to its end.