Exercise 3 – Horizontal and Vertical lines

Unlike diagonal lines which can be used to show speed and create tension, both horizontal and vertical lines in a photograph represent stability and strength. This is due to how humans associate the vertical and horizontal lines with their surroundings “A vertical line is also the main component in the main of an image of a human figure, and of a tree. Its direction is the force of gravity, or something escaping it.” Freeman, M. (2007). Vertical lines. In: Adam Juniper The Photographer’s Eye. East Sussex: ILEX. p74. Humans see horizontals as a supporting base and verticals are associated with speed and movement.

Vertical - Wall

This image shows how a vertical subject sits comfortably in a vertictal frame. I took this image of part of the Berlin Wall the straight lines of the wall as well as the bright block of colour in the dull background stand out. The straight lines look help the piece look sturdy and my eyes read the image vertically opposed to the natural left to right motion.

Vertical - Trees

The tree trunks in this image create the vertical lines. I decided to photograph the trees horizontally to see what effect it had on how I read the image. If I had taken a photo of a single tree in the horizontal position it would not have had the same association with strength that this did. The series of trees give the impression of strength because of the association with a barrier. The horizontal frame allows me to capture more showing the strength in numbers.

An image comprised entirely of lines arranged in a pattern, especially lines in a precise, mathematical arrangement, can be powerful and high-impact. Because of the repetition and sense of predictability of repetitive lines, the eye travels in a predictable way that is natural and comfortable. Repetitive lines can go a long way to help create a sense of rhythm and movement.”

Hopkins, G. Using Lines in Nature Photography. Available: http://www.gloriahopkins.com/using_lines_in_photography.html. Last accessed 3rd February 2013.

Vertical - Memorial

I tried to use repetitive lines in this photograph of the Jewish Memorial in Berlin but it wasn’t as successful as I hoped.  The vertical lines of the concrete blocks show a certain amount of strength but I believe they show more depth of the aisle. In the actual memorial the blocks were designed to be uneven to give the appearance of a wave. The lines miss the preciseness that would have attracted attention instead my eyes follow the path in the centre which is a diagonal line. Exact alignment is important because vertical and horizontal and vertical lines in a photograph are instantly compared with the edges of the frame making smallest discrepancy noticeable.

Vertical - Gate

For this photograph I tried to take a series of vertical lines in a vertical frame. I thought that using a vertical frame for a vertical subject would acentuate the vertical lines making them seem taller and more impressive. The width of the subject and my wide angle lens meant that this was taken from a distance. Which meant that I also capture a large amount of the surrounding area mainly the horizontal line of the ground. I think that my subject looks strong and dominating but I think that is owed to the horizontal line that gives the lines stability. I don’t instantly look at the building up and down like I should my eyes are lead to the building from the empty foreground with help from the curve of the path which lead my eye to it. I think that the subject may have been better photographed from  a straight on shot.

“Together, horizontal and vertical lines are complimentary. They create an equilibrium in the sense that their energies are perpendicular to each other; each one acts to stop the other. They can also create a primary sensation of balance, because there is an underlying association of standing upright, supported on a level surface.”  Freeman, M. (2007). Vertical lines. In: Adam Juniper The Photographer’s Eye. East Sussex: ILEX. p74.

Horizontal lines in a photograph create a sense of stability and can convey a sense of relaxation. The horizon itself is the ultimate stable line, and should be completely level in a photo. Even slightly skewed it the image becomes uncomfortable to look at because like a vertical line the horizontal line is subconsciously compared with line of the frame. The horizontal line (like seen in Part One) is most commonly taken in a horizontal orientation as it extends the line.

Horizontal landscape Horizontal landscape lines

The first photograph the horizontal lines are formed by the tops of the trees lines across the whole frame. This extends to the buildings in the distance and the hills behind that. I think it is interesting that the clouds also seem to form a line in the sky mimicking the land below. I think that this image shows how horizontal lines express stability and relaxation.

Horizontal - roof

The tiles in this photograph create horizontal lines. The horizontal lines are created by my viewpoint of the tiles. The disadvantage of this photograph are where the tiles become a mass closer to the top of the frame, the lines become reliant on light and shadows to distinguish them.

Horizontal - windows bnw

In this photograph I chose to take the horizontal windows of an office block. I took the photograph in a horizontal frame to reduce the appearance of height making sure focus is on the horizontal lines not the vertical.

Horizontal - windows colour

I changed this photograph into black and white. Colour in a photograph can be a distraction when the intention is to focus on the shape of the subject in an image. I think for this image the colour works better than the black and white. I think this is because the subject is variants of one colour it aids the image in being interesting and attracting the eye without being a distraction from the lines.

Horizontal - fountain


A horizontal line is created by the eye contact of the two statues, the stairs fill the background with horizontal lines also a strong line is created between the pool and stairs.

One thought on “Exercise 3 – Horizontal and Vertical lines

  1. Pingback: Learning Log Contents | Kimberley Jones

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