Whether down the hallway, down the path or down the road…converging lines draw our eye into the picture frame. The use of vanishing points as a compositional tool goes back to the Renaissance artists Donatello, Masaccio and Leonardo da Vinci.
‘A vanishing point is a point in a perspective drawing to which parallel lines not parallel to the image plane appear to converge. Vanishing points can also refer to the point in the distance where the two verges of a road appear to converge.’
Vanishing points create strong, dynamic compositions that force the viewer to ‘follow’ the leading lines. This can result in an unfortunate neglect of any of the other elements in the picture since the focus is so narrowly defined, but the trade-off is an eye-catching, commanding image.
I used my wide angle lens exclusively for this photo outing as it is a natural at exaggerating the strong lines in the foreground that then converge and appear to vanish into the background.
Somehow we seem compelled to follow the lines in, never to discover what waits for us at the end of the road.
A Sunday morning trip to the Mer Bleue Conservation Area in Ottawa provided a great opportunity to exploit the many vanishing points created by the boardwalk trail across the peat bog. The grey wood was a nice contrast to the orange and gold of the autumn foliage, and the sky was a beautiful blue with lovely puffy white clouds. Nature sure does understand colour theory, blue and orange are complementary colours, as are red and green, yellow and purple and white and black.
‘The use of complementary colors is an important aspect of aesthetically pleasing art and graphic design. When placed next to each other, complements make each other appear brighter.’
Strong leading lines can also dominate an image by leading our eye ‘in and out’ of the picture frame as shown by the well-defined grey boardwalk.
This peaceful area was ablaze with the colours of autumn. It is… ‘the land of the silver birch, home of the beaver’… as evidenced by the large beaver lodge beside the boardwalk and the tall white birches.
An interesting in situ environmental art installation by Marc Walter was a pleasant diversion as well. My favourite piece was this large ‘duck’.
Many more photos using vanishing points to define the composition can be found on the web but I thought these were kind of neat as most of us don’t venture underground like this. Check out these photos by Michael Cook.