Linear Features

Linear features are commonplace on the Earth's surface, both natural and man-made in origin. Such features may be straight or curved, continuous or discontinuous, and are depicted by differences in topography, land cover, or land use. The treatment of linear elements may have a strong impact on the photo composition. Generally straight linear features should not run vertically or horizontally across the picture, especially near the center of view; diagonal arrangement is much more pleasing (Fig. 5-4). In some situations, linear features may be the dominant visual elements present in a scene, and their diagonal placement may create dramatic views (Fig. 5-5).

Most straight linear objects on the Earth's surface are man-made structures, ranging from fencelines to airport runways (Fig. 5-6). Straight, linear features of natural origin are generally not so common. Fractures of various types in soil, rock, or ice often appear as straight features. When viewed from above, distinct linear patterns may be seen (Fig. 5-7). Curved linear features are still more pleasing to view (Wildi, 2006), such as meandering streams or wandering roads (Fig. 5-8). The S-shaped curve is a classic form, although finding an ideal S-shaped curve from the aerial vantage is easier said than done (Caulfield, 1987).

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