Why you Should know About Vertical Lines
Vertical lines come right after horizontal lines in importance and that’s for a single reason – the way our eyes view an image. Our eyes scan a photo from left to right horizontally and will pick up horizontal lines first, and because of this, vertical lines are excellent at complimenting horizontal lines with their perpendicular, stopping nature when they intersect. This is a great technique to adding tension into a photo.
They have a very important place in photography and art for the way they make us perceive a photo, and this can be many things, depending on what the photo is of. A photo of a vertical tree may make us perceive growth, uplifting and a sense of something spiritual like in the photo below, whereas a building would give a sense of dominance, power, performance and stability such as in the photo below the trees. It’s all about what’s in the photo and how it interacts with whatever else is in the frame.
The simplest way of presenting a photo with a strong sense of vertical lines is to shoot in portrait orientation. The vertical sides being closer together than in landscape accentuate the vertical form and encourage the viewer to see the lines present in a photo. Keeping vertical lines close to the sides like in the photo below help to encourage the comparison between the lines in the photo and the vertical frame.
It’s easy to create a sense of depth in a photo by using vertical lines and taking 2 or more objects that we know to be the same (or roughly so) height and placing one further away from the other. As we well know, this makes the vertical line appear smaller, but in doing so provides us with a sense of depth. Have a look at the trees in the photo below and the bridge in the photo below it which demonstrate this.
Perspective has a very obvious effect on photos and using different focal lengths can have a huge effect on how lines will be seen in a photo. Up close, the effects are obvious, like the photo of the trees in the woods above; the further away the lines get, the closer together they appear to be. If you’re much further away, using longer focal lengths, the objects appear closer together and therefore more straight by comparison. Have a look at my comparison below that I took from my tutorial on focal length to fully understand this.
A vertical line in a frame can appear to cut a frame in half if it’s placed in the center of the photo like in the one below. This can be a useful technique, but for the majority of the time, I find that it’s not how I want my photo to look as it adds tension to a photo while taking away interest. If you place the subject of the photo slightly to one side like in the photo below the one below, it makes the photo more interesting.
Vertical Lines in Lanscape Photos
Below is a great example of how vertical lines within a horizontal frame change the feeling from vertical lines continuing vertically out of the frame to continuing on a horizontal plane, out of the frame. Because you don’t get to see where the lines stop repeating, you get a sense of infinity and that the photo couldn’t contain it, along with a sense of stability from the intersecting horizontal line.
When there are multiple vertical lines in a frame, it’s best to shoot in lanscape to contain them all and to give a sense of depth and repetition in the photo. If this photo been shot in portrait, it would have lost its sense of repetition and drawn the eye up and down the photo rather then left to right.