Scrolling through photographs from last month’s trip to the southeastern corner of Arizona, I noticed that many of them feature strong diagonals. Normally I’m not looking for diagonal lines when taking pictures, but I’m often drawn to them. They lend a dynamic feeling to compositions and they keep the eyes moving.
Speaking of composition, there’s a tool in Lightroom I like to use called a crop overlay. It places lines in the shape of triangles – diagonals – over your image. When you crop or move your image around relative to the fine lines and place a focal point where the lines intersect, the composition often falls magically into place. Your eyes are led naturally around the image. I don’t always get it right but the tool is a big help. You can see it in action here, on Rikk Flohr’s WordPress site devoted to cropping images.
I love a window seat! Here, snowy mountains and farm fields trace diagonals high above the line my flight followed (another diagonal) between Seattle and Phoenix:
Southeast of Tucson, along the sandy shores of the San Pedro River, there was evidence of the water’s power in the mangled grasses and leaves left high and dry after the last flood:
In the Chiricahua Mountains weathered wood melded with the rocky soil, creating a pale bas relief effect. These brances trace beautifully flowing diagonals.
On the Echo Canyon Trail at the Chiricahua National Monument, enormous boulders balance on one another in a daring elemental dance. A twisted dead tree contributes more diagonals:
A crooked hole in two “Standing up Rocks” in the Chiricahua Mountains affords a dramatic view. The angled, weathered rocks speak of great geological disturbances, but the clouds describe restful horizontals:
Cracked mud, animal footprints, and caught leaves create an interesting pattern on the banks of the San Pedro River:
Fallen leaves, weathered wood, and a pink rock lay tangled on the ground at Ramsey Canyon:
The Dragoon Mountains tumble diagonally across the land, catching afternoon light and beckoning exploration:
Sunlight creeps along angled boulders at Texas Canyon in the Dragoon Mountains:
Desert flowers hold fast to a bit of soil lodged in a diagonal cut in the rock, and a weathered branch lends stability:
Seen from the right angle, even round cactus leaves can trace diagonals:
Slender weathered branches trace a relaxed trajectory among cactus spines, creating a contrasting mass of diagonals – a still, dry dance of graceful and spiky forms:
And the beautiful, open road that is Highway 186 carves enticing diagonals across a golden desert grassland: