Exercise: Diagonals

Diagonal lines within an image create a feeling of instability, dynamism and movement. Whereas horizontal and vertical lines give the feeling of stability, diagonal lines are neither one nor the other and are thus unstable. Diagonals can be created a number of ways; they may be actual diagonal lines such as the zig-zags by a pedestrian crossing; they can be created by a perspective effect such as converging verticals or by simply tilting the camera so that horizontal or vertical line is angled across the frame.

This image was taken with a 35mm lens and shows several prominent diagonal lines that appear to be converging the further from the camera they are. This is linear perspective. The diagonals do not meet in the distance of course but they appear as though they might, Linear perspective in a image will often produce these diagonals.

This diagonal is created simply by adjusting the viewpoint. Ordinarily the dip between the pages of an open book (Photography: A Critical Introduction as it happens!) would be a vertical line, In this image I feel that the diagonal gives the suggestion that the pages are turning; that there is some activity. Although some words are visible, it is hard to decipher any meaning (a bit like the actual book!) and hence the focus is kept more towards the diagonal line.

This is what you might call a 'real' diagonal line, as the slope of a roof is so designed to allow the run-off of water. This is the usual human viewpoint for sloping roofs. However, should I so choose, I could rotate the image and make it a horizontal or vertical, but of course that would look rather eccentric and wouldn't really be justifiable.

I thought this view was quite interesting for the concept of diagonal lines as it has a mixture of ingredients. There is the 'natural' diagonal of the sloping bridge on the right as it angles downward to meet the upward sloping path on the left of the image, Additionally there is linear perspective which enhances the effect further. One can almost imagine this wall as being of constant height as it disappears toward a vanishing point in the far distance.