Tuesday, April 17, 2012


street along Buckingham Palace ~ London (2010)
I'm participating in Kat Sloma's EXPLORING WITH A CAMERA ~ and this month's theme looks at the use of diagonal lines to suggest motion. Kat explains how our eyes "naturally" follow diagonals, and goes on to explain the various powers of diagonal directions in photography. Her explanation is worth reading and is found HERE!

After looking through my trip files, I've was able to find only a few photos with a true diagonal (meaning - I didn't manipulate the photo by flipping it in another direction or crop it so the diagonal was more pronounced).

The London picture (above) is an example of a "secondary diagonal"... Our eye is reading "uphill" which is not natural, but in this case, the cars are headed downhill. To me, this creates more of a zigzag motion ~ if you think of our eyes following the street "uphill" & back "downhill" with the angle of the cars.

bike riding outside Amsterdam ~ July 2005
I believe this is another example of a "secondary diagonal" but headed in the opposite direction. One reason this photo captures your eye is due to the dynamic angle of the diagonal. I hope it solicits interest by making you wonder what is beyond that red blotch of color in the left-hand edge of the picture!??!

London streets don't run in straight lines!
Compare this photo (taken near the corner of Trafalgar Square) to the bicycling photo... Although cars have the ability to travel much faster than a bicycle, these taxis seem pretty motion-less!!! of course, they are stopped at a red light, but to me, the bike photo seems to imply a "greater sense of motion" ~ due to a more pronounced or dynamic angle in the diagonal line of the bikeway. 

sidewalk artwork ~ Budapest, Hungary (2009)
The diagonal that gives the "greatest sense of motion" is one which moves from the top left to the bottom right. This is called a "primary diagonal" with our eye moving in a downhill motion. You may have thought your eye was drawn to the marble sidewalk art, but it's more likely that your eye was following the direction of the diagonal! 

brick pathway along the Smithsonian Castle ~ Washington DC
Here's another example of a subtle diagonal... I feel the vibrant color of the flowers draw your attention deeper into the photograph! Don't you want to take a walk here?

My greatest ah-ha! Most of my pictures are taken with a "secondary diagonal" ~ I'm wondering if that is due to the fact that I'm right-handed???

This exercise certainly increased my awareness about the "impact" of diagonals to create motion, excitement and energy in photographs.

Fabulous lesson... I'll be taking more photos with a "primary diagonal" ~ I hope this post encouraged you to check out Kat's blog, KAT EYE STUDIO... she shares a wealth of information that can & will impact your photography.


  1. I like your diagonal examples, all so different. I like the subtle diagonal in the brick pathway shot and there are lots of pretty elements in this capture which draw me in from the benches right down to the end.
    I like the second bike riding shot which actually draws in my eye from right to left because I am first drawn to the man on the right with his bicycle.
    I also love the London streets shot and there again my eyes go from right to left!

  2. It's so interesting to see how we all approach diagonals differently. Our own style comes through! I really like the bicycle one - that is a great example. The diagonal is primary but my eye moves opposite - starting with the subject and then moving beyond through the rest of the frame. The diagonal leads me to the background. Thanks for sharing in Exploring with a Camera!

  3. How interesting! Kat makes a good point in her comment about how we each experience diagonals differently. As I study that last photo, my eye is drawn by the diagonal lines made by the fence, those benches, and even the lamp posts...they all seem to form a line that draws my eye deeper into the photo. I want to see what's in that lot beyond the fence.

    This is a fun and interesting exploration. I appreciate your perspective!

  4. Great set of shots - and I completely agree that the bike shot has more movement than the taxis (maybe that's my experience of London traffic clouding it a bit too!). Am loving reading everyone's perspective on this and how we all read them slightly differently. I've really enjoyed reading yours.



Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...