In the Harry Potter wizard books, (that you may have heard about), there’s a place called Diagon Alley where wizards go to shop/bank and buy ice-creams. It’s a magical and powerful place, and has a counterpart in creative photography; the diagonal composition line. Think of it as your Diagonal Ally (groan).
Let me explain…
Images with strong subject lines, in this case going from one corner to the opposite corner, help the viewer by giving them a lead into the image. This aircraft image is an extreme example. The diagonal line from bottom left to top right takes us straight up to the aircraft. It looks as if it’s climbing steeply to fly off to a far away place. The plane is almost at the corner of the frame, so we get an idea that it’s leaving our space.
Unlike a plane the “Angel of the North” is firmly rooted, but I’ve used the diagonal here as well. The wings going from top right to bottom left give the image its basic shape, allowing me to use the sun as a balancing element. I used a 20mm wide-angle lens in order to exaggerate the perspective.
Wings again but on another aircraft rather than a statue. This is a privately owned Percival Pembroke C-1 that’s preserved and gives flying displays. As it passed along the display line it was banked to the left to give the spectators the best view. I’ve cropped the image so that the wings go along a diagonal from top left to bottom right. It makes the image much stronger. Taken with a 400mm telephoto lens.
Diagonal lines also work in creative portrait photography. This portrait of someone jumping has a diagonal line made by his right arm and left leg. It’s not as pronounced as the other images. It’s more of a Z-shape than a straight line, but it still adds to the impact of the image. I’ve used a low viewpoint and a wide-angle lens so it’s hard to see just how high off the ground he is.
This final example, taken at Avebury, doesn’t have such an extreme diagonal line as the others. It still shows just how much better the composition is with a diagonal. The whole feel of the image is more relaxed than it would be if the bottle was vertical. The torn foil, open bottle, and minimal contents let us know it was very relaxed. I used a long lens and wide aperture to make the image as simple as possible.
Remember to visit Diagon Alley with your own images!
On a non-diagonal note, I’ve entered the Macallan Masters of Photography competition. The theme is “Great Journeys”. The prize winners will be decided by popular vote, then by expert judging. There are some fantastic travel images well worth having a look at. You need to be over 18 to enter the site, as it’s sponsored by a whisky company. Once you’ve entered your date of birth you can then click back on to my blog and vote for my images here, here, here and here. If you would like to of course…