Leading lines are a great way to help your viewer understand what they are looking at in your image. When used well they are like a signpost saying “look right here” to keep viewers from wondering what’s so important about this image. They can be used as the subject of an image as well but are more powerful when used to direct the viewer to the actual subject.
And they represent a rule to be broken. Nothing like a little mystery to life that leaves you wondering just a bit. In the image above I knew the strong leading line of the bridge would be a great composition, but the other side of the river was pretty bland. Instead of using that as my subject (and disappointing the viewer with boxy warehouses as a reward for following the line of the bridge) I moved to the right a bit and put the trees over the “end of the line.”
The line certainly leads somewhere, but where? I think the natural aspect of the tree overlapping the rigid structure of the bridge softens the abrupt end of the leading line, making it less jarring to the viewer who looks down the railroad expecting to see something interesting. From another perspective, perhaps there’s a train coming toward us.
Guess we’ll never know…..