Project research and reflection: Horizontal, Vertical, Curved and Diagonal.

This project didn’t cause the same angst as the first project in this module as I am somewhat fascinated by ‘real’ lines and the way lines play out in land and city. Of course making the best use of them within a photograph is quite another thing.

 Having not done this research first, the exercises were somewhat dry  but what I did find led to some interesting conclusions.  I had never noticed before that absolute verticals in a rural setting are very difficult to come by (as I noted underneath the relevant exercise). For the exercise in horizontals I expressed my continued wrestle with horizontals in my local environment that cut off leading flow of landscapes in the form of Devon banked hedges.  Interestingly, there are few Mid-Devon landscape images that I have ever come across and I have often looked for inspiration on how to tackle this locality.  The other noticeable difference in the city/ rural, contrasts is that where the countryside lacks so many verticals, the city lacks so many curves.  I have long recognised the power of diagonals in leading the eye and providing the extra dimension of perspective but spent time recognising as many sources of them as I could.

 Again I have done some reading of Michael Freeman’s ‘The Photographer’s Eye’ and from there I have studied a few iconic images. To summarise and paraphrase:

 –       Horizontals establish a location, a static feature and a sense of dynamic direction and movement along their length. They also symbolise stability, weight, calm and restfulness (Freeman,2007:72)

–       Verticals are generally suited to a portrait frame. A vertical needs a horizontal base to support and create equilibrium. Used properly in a composition it can create a sense of strength and stability. A vertical needs to be carefully aligned. (Freeman,2007:74)

–       Diagonals are free from alignment and of all the lines verticals provide the most dynamism. They create unresolved tension, as there is no stability of a horizontal or vertical. (Freeman,2007:78)

–       Curves provide a sense of flow and often speed. They don’t interact well with lines. They are useful in providing a gentle lead into an image. (Freeman,2007:80)


 In the exercises I noticed that all lines have to coexist to some degree and the art is in how to frame them to coexist as harmoniously as possible or separate them for challenging / abstract pieces.

 For research and preparation for my assignment images, that will require us to visit all these themes, I had a look as some revered images and how the lines were used as I wanted to see how my observations and new knowledge worked within the frame of them. I will only be talking about lines though and not other aspects of creative decisions.

 Andreas Gursky: I have mentioned him in an earlier post and how could I talk   about lines without mentioning Gursky.  ‘Rheine 11’ is a classic example of horizontal work. Lines of the river, grass and the path are unhindered across the frame and provide tension and stability.  As Michael Freeman suggests the overall feel is a restful one.

  In the images ‘Centre Georges Pompidou’, Gursky marries all types of straight lines in a rhythmic and balanced way. He manages to punctuate the scene successfully, albeit subtly, with two people who are opposite each other, leaning over a table – thus providing a curve that is mirrored on both sides of the frame. The tension is provided vertically in the table legs, horizontally in the tables and ceiling. Also the ceiling supports are revealed as diagonals by means of perspective thus adding a third tension/ dimension and, arguably, this might be one case where a diagonal might be resolved in tension via geometric design. (My own observations)


Images viewed on  (Accessed: 20/10/2013).  No text quoted or paraphrased from the site.


Alexander Rodchenko:  This photographer was suggested by my tutor for me to study as part of Assignment 1 feedback.  My tutor must have chuckled knowing that this work might send my head into a spin.  If that was the case then he was right.  Apart from a few geometrically stable images where the obligatory desired lines are present in a resolved and comfortable view, the rest of them caused me something near distress where I felt the need to turn my laptop at a variety of angles to try and stabilize the image. My eyes were continually trying to rectify the deliberate challenge that the images presented. The image entitled ‘Steps’ was nearly settled to my eye and would have been had the top of the frame been cropped. By letting the diagonals run into shadow and then being met with an intermittent diagonal running in a different direction, the image was left far from resolved in my opinion.


The next image I am going to talk about will probably cause me nightmares tonight! Entitled ‘The Girl with a Leica’. “WHY WOULD YOU DO THAT?” was my immediate exasperated thought with a compelling need to turn the screen to stop the seated lady sliding down the bench and out of the frame.  However, when I gradually turned the image back around to the intended viewing position I could see that the image worked due to the diagonals travelling and converging towards the top of the frame.  Triangles had formed that bisected the frame across the diagonal frame corners and then I noticed that the clever use of the cast shadow through the frame, that contrasted in an opposing diagonal direction creating something more of balancing tension. This image is a clever demonstration of how the lackof horizontals cause instability and challenges to the viewer.


Images viewed on:

(Accessed:21/10/2013) No text quoted or paraphrased from the site.


ABBAS:  Magnum photo’s was also recommended as a good source of imagery by my tutor.  Having now visited the site I know I am going to be spending quite some time there.  Having looked mostly at lines in the above text I wanted to look at curves here.  Abbas appears to be a documentary photographer and my alter ego is an international documentary photographer.  His Northern Ireland ‘troubles’ portfolio immediately gripped me.  The first image that caught my eye was an unnamed image. A building is on fire and a fire fighter is extinguishing the flames.  The hoses lead me into the frame from the bottom curving and weaving across each other to the firefighter in the middle ground. The water then carries the eye in the continuation of curve across the frame. Whilst my eye is travelling across the frame I noticed the incredible luck/ timing of the front of the building collapsing in the background. The curve of the background collapse meets the rising curve of the water. The curves of ground events are mirrored in the rounded plumes of smoke in the sky.  The image is energetic and the curves go a long way to enhance that feeling.


Image viewed on:

(Accessed:21/10/2013) No text quoted or paraphrased from the site.


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