Lines in Composition

Leaf at Brookside Gardens
Much of composition is arranging the elements in your scene into a pleasing or interpretive design.  Intentionally using lines can be very beneficial to your compositions.  Lines exist everywhere in nature, so you can use them to your advantage.  Generally speaking, I prefer lines that flow diagonally through the frame.  They tend to guide your eye through the frame more dynamically.  Now of course, some lines are meant to be horizontal, like a horizon, or vertical, like a tree.  You certainly would want to have a reason to intentionally make them diagonal lines in your composition.  But many lines can be arranged in your frame as you choose.

Consider the photo to your left.  Here I rotated the camera so that the main line would run diagonally through the frame.  If your lines run to the edges of the frame, it's often beneficial if those lines don't hit the corners of the frame.  If a line runs from corner to corner, it can have the effect of splitting the composition in two.

Hooded Mergansers at Viera Wetlands
Lines do not have to be continuous lines.  They can be implied by three or more points in nature.  Now, you geometry fans probably just balked at what I said.  After all, in 10th grade geometry we learned that two points define a line.  But photographically speaking, that's precisely why you need three points.  After all, any two points define a line.  So if you have points in your photograph, you could draw line through any two of them.  But three points arranged in a line suggests intention and composition.

Hooded Mergansers at Viera Wetlands
Consider these two photographs of the exact same three Hooded Mergansers taken at Viera Wetlands.  But notice that composition in the composition directly above the ducks are not in a line, while in the top composition above, they do form a line.  Which do you think is a stronger composition and why? Personally, I like the arrangement in the above photograph better, but I think I cropped the image above too close to the leading merganser.  I think perhaps I should redo the crop on the above photo.