27 Mar 2010

Exercise: Implied lines

Implies lines are those lines that our minds put into a picture to follow a natural path or to resolve the incomplete projection of a line.  The exercise starts by asking us to look at two provided photographs and sketch in the implied lines that exist.  I have reproduced the photographs below and added the implied lines.

The left picture has three major implied lines all of which centre at the neck of the bull.  The two indicated follow the lines of the capes and the third, which is harder to illustrate is the unseen eye-line of the matador.  A less obvious line but one which adds to the flow and movement of the image is the curved red line in the sand which leads round the back of the bull fighter's feet and round to the bulls head.
 The black and white image of Corn Threshing has 3 implied eye lines which lead in a circle from the second horse to the lead horse and on to the handler who is himself carefully watching the running horses.  This circle of lines is a powerful link between the parts of the image and keeps the composition alive and full of movement.
From our own efforts we are asked to find 3 images from our stock and perform the same exercise.

This image of the Australian cricket team playing in Capetown has the fast bowler celebrating a 5 wicket haul by holding the ball aloft.  He stands ringed by his fellow players who, with one exception are concentrating on him and directing our eyes in the same manner.  The other less obvious line comes from the TV camera under the red umbrella to the left of the image which is also directed to the group.  Interesting observations come from the audience who are probably South African as, although they are sportingly applauding are looking everywhere but at the Australians.  Indeed, the little Australian wicket keeper has also found something more interesting giving the celebrations something of a staged look.

I rather like this image as the windsock, which provides a strong implied line down to the man standing by the chair, looks rather like a huge vacuum cleaner about to suck him off his feet.  The edge of the hill isn't well defined which blurs the foreground into the background and gives a strong impression of being high above the terrain.  

Here, the girl in the centre has passed a comment that has attracted glares from her fellow diners whilst she, rather smugly, sips from her wine.  The two eye lines here are strengthened by the expressions of the staring girls.

I included this fourth image out of pure interest and to illustrate some thoughts I had on the subject of implied lines.  A Chinese beggar abases himself in Shanghai and is studiously ignored by the local people around him.  I felt that this was the corollary of the direct lines that we have been looking at in previous pictures as, by gazing away and turning their backs on the beggar they are still directing our attention to him.  To see this we have to examine their body language and the way they act as a group but I feel that this is a valid effect.

The third part of this exercise required us to take further photographs which illustrate an eye line and an extension of a line or lines that point.  The next few pictures I took a couple of days ago in Washington DC.

Here is a cycle cop patrolling an anti terrorist barrier that helps to guard the street leading to the White House.  He has stopped to use his radio in a line of bollards that provides the implied line leading us across the picture to him.  The Do Not Enter sign helps us to understand his presence, as does the guard post.  This is a simple but effective illustration of the principle we are studying.

These photographers are taking images of the Vietnam memorial in Washington so their attention is directed towards the statue.  They have placed themselves in the eye line that the artist created when making the statues so whilst the photographers look at the soldiers, they look back.

Here a tourist gazes down onto the White House.  Although the face is not visible the eye line is strongly suggested and points to the building; our presence in the great USofA is emphasised by the stars and stripes on the tour bus.

I thought I would add this final image as although the lines of the great columns don't point directly at the government 'suit' who is the subject of the image, the gap between them does the job well and as such, in the same way that the beggar is being ignored in the photograph above, the line is implied.

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