Like straight lines, curved lines also hold graphic qualities, however, their characteristics differ quite significantly. The unique feature of a curve, as discussed by Freeman (2007), is that is contains a progressive change of direction, avoiding any direct comparison to the straight edges of the frame. The progressive quality that a curve holds gives it rhythm, and a sense of movement and speed.
Curved movement is seen to be smooth and flowing, and expressively conveys a sense of elegance, gracefulness and gentleness.
Look for and take four photographs using curves to emphasis movement and direction.
This photograph shows the metro line as it stretches away from the station, curving around the bend, and then disappearing from view. While there is no visible activity in the image, there is a sense of movement as the eye follows the rails and fencing along its length.
The hard edges on this path formed two definite curved lines. They curve to the left, leading the eye in this direction. I also noted several gentle curves, created by the top of the treetops and the suggestion of curves formed by the overhanging tree boughs.
This photograph shows a tower of stacked sun-loungers side-on. The viewpoint emphasises the curved lines of their design. Freeman (2007) describes a curve as to be thought of as a series of straight lines at progressively changing angles, which I think can be seen here. The eye is encouraged to follow the smooth rhythm of the curves as they rise and fall.
Here, the curved lines of the metro station’s design can be seen. While this shot also shows some strong diagonal lines, I have included it here to compare these with the curved lines.
Both diagonals and curves have a quality of movement. The diagonals here appear to connect to create zigzags, which are active and encourage the eye to move along them. However, the curves here are gentle, and the uninterrupted, smooth flow contributes to sense of movement and speed. The movement the diagonals convey is dynamic and active while the curves express elegance and grace.
The eye finds it pleasing to look at and follow the line of a curve; this makes curved lines an extremely valuable element of design. All of the examples I have shown for curves have been ‘real’ curves. Freeman (2007) explains that curves are harder to introduce into a photograph than diagonals, but it can sometimes be achieved by implication. While I have not come across the opportunity to capture this with my camera yet, I am aware of it now and will keep my eyes open for appropriate opportunities to experiment.
Freeman, M. (2007) The Photographer’s Eye Lewes: ILEX