How to Use Converging Lines to Enhance Your Photography

Don’t you like digital cameras? Take a photo, look at it, if you don’t like it, delete and re-take it! Here are some tips for capturing good photos!

When framing a landscape shot one of the types of environmental features that many photographers look for and like to incorporate in their shots is converging lines.

Perhaps the classic example (and one that’s probably been overdone) of converging lines is railway tracks. Photo by stevacek

Position yourself in the middle of two tracks (after taking a look at what might be coming from behind) and you’ll see the two tracks on either side of you appear to get closer and closer together as they go into the distance.

Take this shot and the natural reaction for those looking at the scene will be for them to follow the lines off into the distance. In a sense, the two lines act like a funnel that directs the gaze of those entering them in a certain direction.

The same effect can be achieved with roads or pathways, converging fence lines, a set of stairs, power lines, or virtually any other lines that run parallel into the distance or that actually converge at some point.

4 Tips Regarding Converging Lines

Experiment with positioning

the classic railway line shot described above has many possibilities. One is to position the tracks dead center and symmetrically in the shot.

Another positioning would be to step to one side of the tracks and let them run diagonally through your frame from a lower corner to the opposite upper corner. The beauty of this is that you’ll end up with a more dynamic shot. The symmetrical and vertical placement of the lines can be powerful but diagonal lines tend to convey movement.

Alternatively stepping away from the start of the lines can give another perspective – as can holding your camera at an angle to give another diagonal framing of the lines.

Wide Angle Lenses

different lenses can totally change the impact of a shot with converging lines. I find that a wide-angle lens can be particularly useful – especially when positioning yourself between the two lines.

This will help to give the perception that the distance between the lines at the starting point of the image is wider than it is. This exaggeration of the width of your lines can have a powerful impact on your shot.

Positioning the ‘convergence’

one thing to consider when you have converging lines in an image is that they draw the eye into a shot – towards the point that they converge – this becomes one of the most important parts of this image – a focal point.

As you’re framing your shot ask yourself – ‘where is the most effective position to frame this?’

Keep in mind rules like the Rule of Thirds which says that the intersecting points of imaginary lines a third of the way into an image are key points for positioning points of interest.

Also, know that if the point of convergence is outside the frame of the shot that you are leading the eye out of your shot. This could leave a shot unbalanced and with tension – alternatively, it could enhance the shot and leave your viewers wondering about the place where they converge.

Adding Interest at the Point of Convergence

Sometimes it is worth enhancing the point of convergence with something of interest (for example waiting until a train appears in the distance on the tracks – or positioning a person at the top of stairs) – on other occasions the composition of the shot is strong enough without adding an extra subject.

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