***** RESULTS: Challenge # 63: Negative Space *****

Started Nov 12, 2008 | Discussions thread
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karinatwork Senior Member • Posts: 1,901
***** RESULTS: Challenge # 63: Negative Space *****

First off, thank you everyone for participating in this challenge. I was overwhelmed by the sheer amount of entries, and - of course - by the fact that it turned out to be a theme that didn’t seem to be as obvious and easy as I had thought it would be. Not even for me.

I therefore have to apologize. Some of my pictures weren’t very good examples at all, and I am so sorry that I confused some of you. If I would ever have to host a challenge again, I would not post any samples at all. Somehow only after looking at all the entries I realized what negative space really was, at least for me. I am hoping that you will still allow me to judge the pictures based on my beliefs of negative space, and not on what I had brought forth as examples… I also want to apologize in advance if I am offending anyone or hurting anyone’s feelings. These pictures are your work, they’re your babies. And you have the right to be proud of them. None of them are bad pictures. I just happen to like some of them better than others.

For me, the whole challenge was a big huge learning process. I can only hope that some of you found it interesting and learned for yourself what you believe negative space is, and what it can do for your pictures.

Before going to the results, I have to say that despite working in graphic arts for the past 16 years, I have never had any formal training for it. I am “self taught”. Same goes for photography. I have taken pictures since I was 10, but I never had any classes about the subject of photography. My photography relies heavily on gutt feeling. I know what I like, and when I like it, I go with it. And this is exactly how I tackled the present challenge as well.

Here are some more clarifications on how I judged:

The theme of the challenge was about “Negative Space”. Shouldn’t be too hard, since there is negative space in almost every picture, right? The challenge however was about the smart and proper use of this negative space, in order to make the subject of the picture stand out more, make the picture more appealing, with more impact. That’s what we’re looking for in a photo contest… a picture that is impactful.

The impactful use of negative space and composition go hand in hand. In order for negative space to have its full beneficial effect, they cannot be separated. Negative space used without proper framing or cropping is not negative space. It’s just space. Background. What I am trying to say is that negative space is called negative space because it does not distract us from absorbing the positive space in the picture – the subject. It is called negative, because it counterbalances the positive space, and does what it has to do without overpowering the subject.

Negative space also relies heavily on colours, in my opinion. A contrast too strong does not let the eye rest. A contrast to weak messes with the balance between positive and negative space. Black and white photography is actually grayscale, with a lot more “colours” contained than just black and white. So there is an achievable balance in this as well, with competing tones that are not too strong, and not too washed out. This is the reason why I didn’t consider what I called the “silhouette” pictures.

Also, there is a very difficult balanced achieved between a completely black background and a lit foreground, and it’s hard to make the background not swallow the picture. So, while it might seem negative space, it might not be negative at all, because it just plays such a big role in the expression of the picture in total.

My husband’s uncle worked as a graphic designer downtown Manhattan for many years. He is since retired and I had the opportunity to talk to him about negative space on the weekend. Luckily, he agreed with me on the definition of negative space in every way. I was relieved, to say the least. I did not show him the pictures, so the decision was my own. Therefore, based on my research and my own personal taste, here is the result of the challenge.

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Hors Concours:

These pictures are great. But if they were mine, I would have not submitted them to this challenge. They would be great pictures for a different challenge. But I thought these would be worth mentioning, because they're so beautiful.

• Alaf
• Ben Yeh
• Chang108
• Climbingdude
• davidmamartin
• Gaber
• ian herridge
• ianbramham
• k5mitch
• LeungPhotos
• Marriott
• orangedial
• Paul Uy
• sukotin
• willswanson

Next off, the Honorable Mentions.

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