Tuesday, 15 March 2011

Implied Lines

Exercise - 2 photographs

This exercise is divided into 3 parts.

Part 1 involves looking at the two photographs below and finding the implied lines. If one direction along a line is dominant this is marked with an arrow.

Dominant Lines
The first image of a bullfighter is fairly straightforward. The strongest implied line for me is in the direction of the bulls movement which is extended by the bullfighters cape. There is also a curve extending from the top of the bullfighters cape down to the curve in the sand which leads out of the frame. These curves together form an "S" shape. Although the bright colour of the cape is a strong focal point the movement suggested by the bull is stronger therefore more dominant.

I found the second image much trickier. There is a sense of direction coming in from both sides of the frame as both the walking figure and the horses are moving towards the centre of the image. This is accentuated by the tilt of the horses body and turned heads. In this instance the horses movement feels stronger than the man as the horses are larger in the frame so their direction of movement feels more dominant. With this image particularly I have changed my mind several times and this confirms one of the points raised by this exercise in that you can only encourage a viewer to look at an image in a certain way. Inevitably people will interpret images differently.

The second and third part of the exercise is to perform the same analysis on my own images showing examples of implied lines, an eye-line and the extension of a line or line that points.

Image 1. Multiple eye lines.

Image 2. Single eye line.

Both of these images show examples of an eye-line. The painters in the images are static but your eye automatically looks to where they are looking directing your attention to the same point. This implied line directs you to look at another element within the frame. If these lines are diagonal or curved they are more active and suggest a greater sense of movement. In Image 1 there is a much greater sense of activity due to multiple lines.

Image 3 . Row of points
  This image shows a row of points joining together to form a line. An example of your eye jumping ahead to complete the line and also incorporates an eye-line with the man looking out of the frame. In this case you can't see where his gaze ends so the viewer is left to wonder.

Image 4. Direction of movement
 With an obviously moving subject your eye keeps moving into the direction of travel extending the line.

According to Michael Freeman in his book The Photographer's Eye the eye-line is the strongest form of implied line and is a very important design element in an image. An implied line within an image encourages the viewer to see different elements within the image which in turn gives it a sense of movement and activity.

Using an implied line can also be used by a photographer in an attempt to control how elements are revealed within an image.This makes the image more interesting for the viewer.


  1. Some excellent examples Nicola. Trust you are well

  2. Yes Thanks Dave. You Too? Wish this nasty weather would go away though. It did feel like spring had arrived last week but we're now back in the depths of winter. Just about ready to finalise Assignment 2- so next section of the course is Colour. Could be pretty monochrone if the snow persists!

  3. My daughter lives near Edinburgh and was disgusted to see the snow back - thankfully it didn't last so long this time though. She got snowed in last time and couldn't get the car out until the army moved in!