Implied Lines

When a viewer looks at a photograph, there are very often implied or ‘imagined’ lines involved in the frame. These can be used, overtly or covertly, to draw the viewer’s attention to certain aspects of the photograph. In general they are not big obvious gestures, but rather smaller, subtler indications of where the viewers gaze should fall within the image they are looking at. This exercise required me to take note of these implied lines with a number of images prepared both by me and within the course notes provided. In each case I have overlaid blue lines on the original images for the viewer and me to follow making the implied lines clear, as I perceive them.

The first two images below were in the course notes and gave very obvious implied lines to me, the viewer, to follow and note.

Horses and lines

Bullfighter lines

The sweeping motions portrayed in both of these images give fluidity for the eye to follow around the frame. The horses are turning in motion towards the handler who, in turn, is moving towards the horses. Both horses are looking directly at the man. The bull and bullfighter are both moving towards each other too, the latter having swept his ‘capote’ towards the bull. The bull in response has advanced towards it. There is also an eye-line from the bullfighter towards the head of the bull. The circle created keeps the eye moving around the image with no-where in particular to rest.

The next three images are ones that I have provided to give the same treatment to, with hopefully similar results.

Boy on Pier

Boy on Pier

The lines show opposing directions. The converging lines indicating where the boy has come from. The other line showing the direction he is walking to which, presumably will lead out of the frame.

Man and son on boat

Man and son on boat

This image throws up a few more implied lines. The lines along the boat are implying direction of travel of the boat. The direction of the pole is opposing these as the man slows the boat by pushing the opposite way. The boy leaping off the boat produces two implied lines of his own as not only the arc of his leap is seen but also the arc in his arm as he drags the rope through the air. The steps on the bank show an upward line as that is the implied direction the boy will take once he lands. Of course he could stumble and end up moving in the opposite direction too.

Kids playing in water

Kids playing in water

The elegant line of the tree trunk produces an implied path that the child diving in to the water has taken and which, presumably, the kids already in the water will make there way back along soon. Indeed, the children in the water are already looking towards the bank and the direction of the tree. Meanwhile, the child who is throwing itself in the water with abandon produces a implied sweeping arc as it tumbles headlong in to the liquid beneath.

The next two images show eye-lines and lines that point. I shall make an explanation of each under the images.

Eye lines

Eye lines

As the man plays his musical glasses in the street, onlookers gaze towards the entertainment. One man is intently watching the hands of the man performing. The women who were passing by have been attracted too and their eye-lines reflect this. The performer himself is looking down at his own hands, which completes the sequence, leaving the viewer in no doubt as to what the centre of attention is in the image.

Lines that point

Lines that point

Pairs of sandals left outside the door of a temple create lines that point to the open door and the dark shadow beyond where the owners have walked inside to worship.

In the search for these images to use on this exercise I must confess to having to ‘move away’ from it and come back fresh as my mind started to see and not see implied lines everywhere. This made it difficult to be objective about which images to select as I found I was starting to impose my will on there being lines that simply did not exist, implied or otherwise. Although I fundamentally understand the use and application of implied lines, there will certainly need to be more effort put in to researching the more subtle side of applying them to my work.


2 thoughts on “Implied Lines

  1. Very interesting! Thank you! I will look out for those lines in the Pics i like and try to find those lines while taking a picture!

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