About Me

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Spofford, New Hampshire, United States
Jeff Newcomer has been a physician practicing in New Hampshire and Vermont for over 30 years. Over that time, as a member of the Conservation Commission in his home of Chesterfield New Hampshire, he has used his photography to promote the protection and appreciation of the town's wild lands. In recent years he has been transitioning his focus from medicine to photography, writing and teaching. Jeff enjoys photographing throughout New England, but has concentrated on the Monadnock Region and southern Vermont and has had a long term artistic relationship with Mount Monadnock. He is a featured artist in a number of local galleries and his work is often seen in regional print, web publications and in business installations throughout the country. For years Jeff has published a calendar celebrating the beauty of The New England country-side in all seasons. All of the proceeds from his New England Reflections Calendar have gone to support the Pulmonary Rehabilitation Program at the Cheshire Medical Center. Jeff has a strong commitment to sharing his excitement about the special beauty of our region and publishes a weekly blog about photography in New England.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

The Power of Diagonals


Getting a LINE on Photographic Composition
This week’s blog is a quick reminder of one of the simplest, yet most effective compositional tools for your photography, the diagonal.Artists are always looking for paths to good composition. Given all the available guidelines, the search can become very confusing. Some, such as the Rule of Thirds and the Golden Rule, can seem quite strict, but many can be distilled to simple guidelines. Don't put your subject in the middle of the frame, avoid distracting elements, watch your background and keep the horizon straight. I was deeply entranced by photography long before I had learned anything about compositional rules and I am still governed more by how the image feels in my eye than by what element happens to fall upon any arbitrary line. Excessive attention to rules can distract from the innate power of the subject, but taking advantage of some simple compositional elements can add energy and direction to your images. One of the simplest of such elements is the diagonal line.

Peaceful Horizontals
Power of the Diagonal
It’s not complicated. Diagonal lines can add energy, direction and movement to an image. The lines may run from bottom to top, clear across the image, dividing it into segments, or they may be isolated to one section of the image. Diagonals are most powerful when they point to something of significance. I have previously discussed the use of diagonals to draw the eye to the subject of the image. It is always important to consider where the lines are pointing, but diagonals can also stand on their own as
Diagonal Energy
dominant elements. Multiple Diagonal lines can interact or intersect in interesting ways that can become the primary subject of the composition. Sadly there are also rules that can be applied to intersecting diagonals. In the future I may discuss the "Diagonal Method", but first I better understand it better. 

Church Fence, Guilford, Vermont
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Black Eyed Susans

 Pick Your Elements
Diagonals may be created by an infinite variety of linear and nonlinear elements. trees, rocks, flowers, shore lines, hills, clouds, shadows, or even people can all work beautifully. Some photographers enjoy creating diagonals by leaning the frame off plumb, but, being a fanatic for straight horizons, I tend to look for other element within the frame to achieve the effect. Of course if the horizon is not visible you can usually go crazy. 

Telling a Story
Embellishing the Story

Let the Eye Guide
Far beyond the slavish adherence to any didactic compositional theory, the best way to appreciate the effect of diagonals is to look at some images. Pictures with lines running parallel to the frame tend to have a more relaxed mood which can be perfectly appropriate for some subjects, but to my eye, diagonally constructed images show a clear advantage in energy and cohesiveness. 

Static Prom Photo

Will He Eat the Lily?


For now I would suggest looking for diagonals to add some energy to your images. It is simple, effective and gluten free!


Jeffrey Newcomer


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