leading lines in photography, a tutorial

Leading lines can play a major part in photography. Usually, they are used to lead the viewer’s eye somewhere into the picture. A harbor that leads you out to sea. The middle line of a curved road that leads you off into the forest. We have all seen fantastic displays of leading lines in photography.

Today, I want us to think past the obvious. I want you to realize that leading lines are everywhere including nature.

In this first photo (on the trail that we hike, bike,  or run down almost daily) I wanted to give you a visual of interest using leading lines. While the first picture is not shabby, it really yields no interest in incorporating a leading line; the leading line takes you to the obvious.


In the second photo, the leading line of the trail brings the viewer through the picture, almost yielding movement in the photo. While you can see where the trail leads, the exact location is not quite discernible giving way to a bit of mystery. This photo also incorporates a second leading line that is not as obvious but also takes the eye to the same distant location… notice the line of leaves just under the tree line. Both lines cause the eye to move in the same direction which imparts more value and concreteness to the leading lines.


But, a leading line is not always created by the blunt presences of an object pointing the way. Sometimes it is just a matter of camera rotation. In the first photo, you have a feathering plant, leaves flayed in the sun.


However, with a simple rotation of the camera you now have a yellow finger pointing the way to a lush abundant forest beckoning to your adventurous spirit.


In this third set… you have the first shot with the stem connected to the berries. The eye is directed toward the berries in a direct measure.


In the second photo, the leading lines of the stems are framing the berries bringing the viewers eyes to the berries in a discrete manner.


And, in these final two photos, the second photo tells more of a story. The shoes are kicked off,  pointing out towards where the run happened.

Running1_SLP Running2_SLP


another PicMonkey tutorial

Here is a teeny tiny tip that I think will be a huge relief to a ton of readers….

You don’t need an expensive camera to make art. You do not need an expensive editing program to create beauty. Those are fantastic, but they are tools for the master, not the master.

I’m going out on a limb here, but I am pretty sure Picasso would never say that a paintbrush created his masterpieces. Or Ansel Adams, I’m pretty sure he thought his ability to see beauty, and then capture it, was a bit more important than editing… especially since there was not editing programs back then.

So, I thought another little demonstration of PicMonkey is needed to prove I am the master creator. The program I edit my photos with is just my paintbrush.


I began with this photo of a cute gal outside of Starbucks, in Seattle.


{Note: I always work in King Kong mode and save in Sean mode to have as much of the pixels saved as possible. But if you have slower internet you might have to bump that down. Also, I always save-as, no matter what program I am using to edit my photos. When I first started out, I would save the picture, which would replace the original with my created work. I cannot tell you how many times I have gone back to a photo wanting to rework it, and no original. It is a personal preference, but I believe in saving all originals.}

The photo was a tidbit dark so I popped up the exposure and the highlights. (I do love how PicMonkey has added features like highlight, shadows, and contrast to their editing tools.) I kind of love this picture just the way it is, but let’s have some fun now.


From my exposure tweaks, I decided to Cross Process the picture, on blue at, 39% to bring out the colors a bit. When I did I wasn’t too happy with her skin color, because I liked her pinky tone. To fix that issue, I used the paintbrush to remove the cross process effect off her skin. I’ll chat about the paint brush further into this tutorial, but it is used the same way in every process.

Next, we will move on to adding a texture… click the weaved icon, and you are going to click Your Own, and choose your texture from a file on your computer (1). I added Kim Klassen’s Soft and Sweet, at lighten (2), and then using the paintbrush, again, I began to un-paint the areas that I did not want the texture (3).


When working with textures:

~I like to take the texture off before I change any fade levels (2.) so that I can clearly see where I am working. In PicMonkey Paint (3.), simply click original for your mode, and then choose 100% for your brush size to start, and then 100% for strength. I always keep my brush hardness at 0%.

~When I begin taking the texture off I always use 100% at the largest size brush, and I work from the inside out. So, in this instance I took most of the texture off of her face, and all of her body, until I reached the outer areas.

~Then I begin to back my brush strength off, and the size of my brush off, for more control. This creates a fading effect.

~If you have a slip-of-the-hand, and make a mistake, no worries. Just hit the back arrow, at the top next to the share button, and all is fixed.


After I add a texture, I like to take the entire photo through another effect to tie it all together. Because I knew I wanted to use Tranquil, I did enhance her eyelashes and her eyebrows so they would not disappear once I ran Tranquil.


And up next, why text of course.

5When adding text you can:

~change the size by enlarging the box using the arrows, or using the font menu (1.).

~rotate the text by clicking the rotation button and rotating your mouse to the desired position (2.).

~change the color of the text by using the color panel. {Note, if you want a specific color you can look the color number up by searching HTML color codes and then type the number into the color panel (3.).

~change the darkness of the text by choosing a different blend mode, or by fading it entirely (4.).

~and more… explore and try each button. you can always back out of it if you do not like what you have done.



Music © Simply Living Photography{linking with Texture Tuesday and Texture Twist}

Is purchasing the Royal package in PicMonkey was worth the money. YES!!!! Really for three reasons, (1) it is cheaper than purchasing other editing programs right out, (2) it is more user-friendly for a beginner, in my humble opinion, and (3) of course you want to be able to play with all the features of PicMonkey. I do use a photo editing program, but my heart still belongs to PicMonkey, especially when you are starting out.


getting out of that photographic rut… a tutorial

“In art intentions are not sufficient and, as we say in Spanish, love must be proved by deeds and not by reasons. What one does is what counts and not what one had the intention of doing.” ~ Pablo Picasso

Remember the rut I was in? In an effort to challenge myself, I have only been working with my prime 50 mm, and my wide-angle 10-24 mm lenses.



We have experienced some interesting weather this summer. I’m really not a fan of living in tornado alley, but I am a fan of the cloud structure a storm brews up. I did not shoot these pictures with my wide-angle. I shot them with my 18-200 lens, which is usually one of my “go to” lenses. I have a prime 50 mm lens that I very rarely use, so I made the decision to only bring that one, and my wide-angle, on our little get-a-way trip. It was tough decision to make, but I knew by only taking these two lenses I would have no other choice but to use them; that choice forced me to challenge my photographic rut. I have also been challenging myself to capture the shot in as little photos as possible. For an entire week I returned home with 200 photos.  These are some favorites…

If you are stuck in a rut try out a few of these challenges:

1. If you are a zoom lens person, stick with a prime lens, or vice versa. By sticking with my wide-angle (mostly prime lens) I was able to better grasp the type of photography I could obtain with it, if I worked with the lens. While this was just a test shot, it was enough to let me know this is the lens I want to use for our up coming school portrait session. I wouldn’t have used the lens otherwise.


2. Try capturing the shot in one to two pictures. We all like to capture that perfect moment just right. And in our efforts to do so, we often take hundreds of pictures. There is nothing inherently wrong with that theory, but sometimes instead of trusting our skills we trust our ability to take hundreds of pictures. And then, we miss the moment completely because we experienced it from behind the lens.  Learning to capture that moment in one to two shots takes practice and skill. Both of which will yank you right out of the photographic rut you have been in by making you stop, think, and compose before you snap. In this next shot, I actually walked away with four photos, but I should have trusted my instincts with the first shot.

Sunlight Dream by © Simply Living Photography{50 mm}

3. Choose a different, maybe uncomfortable, angle. We all have our comfortable angles that we tend to use over and over again. Choosing a different perspective will not always work, but it will force your eye to see things differently. In the first shot, I stood directly over the flower. That is a position I do not normally take because it is difficult to maintain a steady hand. In this instance, it left room for some really fantastic natural texturing from the forest floor.  The second shot was screaming for me to hunker down and try to capture the flower across its horizontal plane. Although trying to squeeze down between my knees in a toddler position was not the most graceful position, nor comfortable, it left me with an interesting shot.

Texture by © Simply Living Photography{Wide-Angle}

Standtall by © Simply Living Photography{50 mm}

4. Work with the sun at all times of the day.  This forces you to learn light, but it also forces you to be creative. Ideally, we would all love to shoot in the golden hours, but sometimes that is just not going to happen. Learning to work with filtered light can be a challenge, and is most definitely going to pull you out of a photographic rut



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