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Basic Photography Lessons, The Diagonal Rule


The Diagonal Rule states that a photograph looks more dynamic if the objects fall or follow a diagonal line. The diagonal line doesn't have to be an actual line and it doesn't have to be a straight one. It could be the edges of a river, the top of a forest, or even an imaginary line connecting the different objects in the scene.

More specifically, create three diagonal guides by marking the vertical edges of your screen 1/6th of the height from the top and 1/6th from the bottom. The same way mark the horizontal edges 1/6th of the width from the left and 1/6th from the right. Connect the upper left horizontal mark with the lower right vertical mark, the upper left vertical mark with the lower right horizontal mark, and the upper left corner with the lower right corner. You may also use the opposite corner combination if you want the oppsite diagonal lines.

diagonal rule

By placing natural elements that form a line along these diagonal guides makes the picture more pleasing and dynamic.

If there are no imaginary or real diagonal lines that can be seen within a scene, sometimes a simple change of position or elevation is enough to produce a useful angle on the objects in the scene. A sufficient amount of Perspective Distiortion from a wide angle lens may also help.