A lot more goes into making compelling travel and nature photos than finding a stunning location and nailing focus and exposure. In the video below you’ll see what one expert calls “the most important element” for grabbing a viewer’s attention.
British photographer Nigel Danson is one of our most popular landscape instructors, and in this episode he demonstrates how to use diagonal elements in a scene to draw viewers into an image and direct their eyes where you want them to go.
Danson admits this technique won’t work with every outdoor scene you confront. But when it does, this compositional tool instantly adds impact and interest. As he explains, “diagonals can be very important in keeping a viewer’s attention.”
Diagonals also add a sense of movement to static scenes, and they create an engaging sense of depth from foreground to background that almost appears three-dimensional. Composing photos in this manner also enables you to employ a related compositional aid; namely, dramatic leading lines.
To be used effectively, it’s important to place diagonals properly within an image, and Danson provides several example of how (and how not) to do that correctly. One effective method is to find diagonal lines that converge at an important object with the frame.
You’ll also see how incorporating the direction of light into the equation adds even more dynamism and energy to a photo. Another way to accentuate this effect is to place diagonal objects in front of strong verticals, like tall trees in the background.
Danson also explains what he means by using “opposing diagonals” to elevate the impact of a photo.
You can find many more landscape photography tips and tricks on Danson’s popular YouTube channel, so be sure to pay a visit and subscribe.
And for another tutorial on a related topic, check out last week’s post explaining several composition mistakes to avoid when shooting landscape photos.