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Next to humor and having fun, the use of lines is the most powerful tool in photography. Lines can be straight, curved or perceived.
Diagonal lines are the most powerful. Next comes vertical, then horizontal.
Use lines to attract the human eye and to draw attention to your photographs. Our--since stone age--genes give us a desire to follow trails both in our imagination and person.
Use lines to create a direct cookie crumb trail to the point of interest (focus) of the photo.
Be aware that as beneficial as lines are in a photo, they can also be detrimental if misleading. Wild goose chases--that end in "cul-de-sacs"-- make modern viewers feel cheated and cause them to, immediately, move on to somebody else's pictureClone away all disrupting and unnecessary lines no matter how small. Even if viewers are not aware of them consciously, they will be subconsciously and it will slow them down.
Especially long lines of fenceposts in the background are annoying unless they serve a purpose.
While watching the video below, first forget about the photos, themselves and focus only on how the lines are used. Then ask yourself what--if anything--the lines add to the photo.
PHOTO CRITIQUE ONE:
In my mind, the redeeming factor of this photo is the serenity of the scene and the cute little boy. I feel his orange shirt against the blue ocean draws the eye and adds color. Both the leading lines of the railing and of that of the fishing pole lead the eye to the boy's face--the point of interest.
My first move would be to clone out the houses in the background as well as any other distraction. Look for the cloned version of this photo in the slideshow above
PHOTO CRITIQUE TWO:
In my mind, the redeeming factor of this photo--if any-- is that it is typical of an Icelandic scene. Despite its strength, the fence does not take away from the story--the point of interest--the church.
The phot isn't bad, but it lacks a "wow factor" I feel the crosses are part of the story, but they are--nevertheless--slightly distracting. My first move would be look for a better point of view that added even more story and did not take away from what we already have. Also, I would try cloning out the lone tree midway between the church and the gate.