Those of you who have read my 'Simplifying Composition' eBook that was published a few years ago will know that I'm a big proponent of utilising shapes and patterns in the landscape. I think that curves and diagonals work well because they follow the way the human eye likes to walk around a frame.
The eye tends to prefer to scan around images diagonally, and it's not too comfortable if it has to scan horizontally or vertically, unless of course the composition is all about strong horizontals (for instance, the trunks of trees can emphasise the vertical aspect of a composition) or with a panoramic image, strong horizontals aid the composition rather than deter.
Below is an excerpt from my e-Book 'Simplifying Composition':
But what of circles in the composition? Do they work? Well I'm not really too sure that they often do. Each time I've shot rock pools, they never look pleasing to the eye is they are entirely round, and I find that shooting them from an incident angle, thus turning them into an eclipse more pleasing.
Consider my image in todays post. In the background of the shot the volcano has taken on a very strong graphical elliptical shape. It's not by any stretch the main focal point of the image, but I feel that the eclipse is there anyway.
If we think about s-curves, they are really compound curves, and curves when we break them down to what they really are - they are really curved diagonals. Ellipses are really compound curves!
Back to the shot: I was initially attracted to the little stream in the foreground. I felt it would make a suitable interest focal point for the composition. But it was really the sweeping curves of the horizon and the ellipse of the volcanic cone that chose the final composition for me.
I enjoy also working with very definite tonal ranges in my landscapes. I can find not only interesting graphical shapes to work with in this landscape, but so too do I find dramatic tonal ranges also.
As I continue with my own photographic development, I just think that everything is ultimately broken down to shapes and tones. There seems no better place for me to do that, than in the vast abstract wilderness of the central highlands of Iceland.