Don’t Race To Erase Power Lines And Other Big Structures From Photos

Don’t Race To Erase Power Lines And Other Big Structures From Photos

Digital editing tools make it easy to remove unwanted artefacts from photos, and erasing power lines from scenic shots is one of the most common strategies. Before you start blending and deleting, however, bear in mind that those same elements can also be used to add drama and structure to your photos.I was reminded of this on a visit to the Bendigo Art Gallery to check out American Dreams, a collection of photographs drawn from the 400,000-image George Eastman House collection. The iconic image ‘US 93 Kingman Arizona’ by Stephen Shore came with a note that the non-natural features in the photo added to its impact rather than detracting from it:

Points of interest are created with bold vertical lines and shapes delineated by electricity poles and cement blocks.

The next time you’re shooting a landscape and start cursing out power cables ruining your view to the horizon, try reframing the shot to take advantage of them. At best, you’ll get a striking and unusual photo; at worst, you’ll end up doing some editing, but you will have given more thought to the composition.


  • There is a concept in photography called framing. You use strong vertical and horizontal structures and lines to draw attention to the focus of your photo. Power lines and poles are just such strong elements.
    It might mean changing your shooting position, but it can provide striking images.

  • And no matter what, do NOT take a snapshot with junk in the background and say “err, it’s to add drama and interest to the photo” because it’s not. You just took the shot without thinking of composition.

  • Maybe it should be raised that you shouldn’t bother touching up photos like this above one. In 20 years time when everyone looks at old photos of a place, every piece of history is interesting, even down powerlines. I love looking at photos of Brisbane in the 70’s and be able to compare it with modern imagery and compare the differences.

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