Railroad Crossing c.1949

COMPOSITION: THE DIAGONAL LINE

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In composition theory the use of diagonal lines is imperative. A diagonal line in a photograph creates interest. It creates a certain tension. It draws the viewer’s interest into the image as we try to see what is just beyond our sight. In “Railroad Crossing” c.1949 a normal scene becomes transformed into a far more interesting depiction of a track crew at work with the use of diagonal lines whether intentional or not on the part of the photographer. Sometimes diagonal lines are obvious, but more often than you might suppose it is the unconscious, invisible diagonal that connects objects in a photo that is more important. Such might be the gaze created by a parent looking at his/her child and the child’s gaze back to the parent. Our brains try to make sense of it all and in so doing a more memorable image is created. In “Railroad Crossing” the eye is drawn to a vanishing point as the telephone poles diminish in relative perspective as does the road turning to the right far in the distance. How many diagonal lines can you find in “Railroad Crossing”? I suspect many more than you might imagine at first glance.