Lines and Line Segments

Types Of Lines © Knut Skjærven

Lines and Line Segments © Knut Skjærven.

Another brief post. This time to fix some basic notions related to useful line structures in street photography.

You could say that this shot does not look much like a street photograph, but in our definition it actually is. Street photography has to do with people, are un-staged and non-posed and happens indoor or outdoor in public areas. That is roughly it.

I believe that the language available for description is a determining factor for what you get to see in a scene.  It makes or breaks your vision. So also in describing and understanding street scenes. Without a language it is hardly possible to describe anything, and in street photography things are ofter a bit blurry.

Not only is a language necessary, but as a photographer you need to know it. It is like the screwdriver in bag. If you don’t have it, you can’t use it. If you don’t know how to use it, you can’t use it either.

This time we deal with a types of lines. Not all types of lines but certainly some of the most important for photography. These types are: a) Perception Lines (Yellows); b) Direction or Directional Lines (Blues) ; and Vision Lines (Reds).

These types are also called Line Segments of Line Sectors as that is just what the are. But Line Types will do well in describing them.

The fundament among them is Perception Lines. Those are the invisible lines that connects the viewer with the viewed. The spectator with the photograph. They carry all other line segments you can think of in analyzing and executing photography. We will only mention them here, and look more closely on them in a later post. They are indicated with yellow.

What I should like you to notice are the blue and the red lines: the Directional Lines and the Vision Lines. The blue lines indicates the main direction or movement of the photograph. The vertical movement is stronger than both a horizontal movement and a diagonal movement. The last being almost absent in this shot.

The vision lines are those springing from a human gaze. In this photograph there are three gazes present. One springing from each human. It does not matter if the gaze is painted, sculptured or real life. All three are represented.

What is the idea of a having a post stating simple facts like these? You might have guessed: It adds a little to the vocabulary of the toolbox. Street photographers toolbox.

What are the rough effects of controlling line segments in photographs? The questions is highly relevant. The rough effect is that you get a grip of what you are doing. Is that important you may even ask? Not necessarily, but it might at the end of the day offer you better pictures.

Three Line Segments have briefly been presented: a) Perception Lines (Yellows); b) Direction or Directional Lines (Blues); and c) Vision Lines (Reds). We will use them all later when we work with photography. Both in understanding photographs and in making them.

You could have a look at some of your own shots to identify Line Segments and specific lines. You should have no problem in identifying red, blue or even yellow lines. Although they are probably not visibly coloured as in this example.  Try it.

Good luck with it.

© Knut Skjærven. All rights reserved: Text and picture.

January 8, 2013.


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  1. #1 by Idebenone on January 24, 2013 - 7:18 pm

    What happens when there is more than one line? If the lines converge to a point, there is a flow to the photograph, leading the viewer’s eye to the convergence point. If the lines are in opposition, however, there is a dynamic tension that is set up in the image. Your eye moves from one place, only to move back in the other direction. This tension is fascinating to me, and is what I’ve been exploring with Opposing Lines in my photographs.

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