What is (and is not) "Negative Space"? (And how do you use it.)

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stevo23 Forum Pro • Posts: 22,412
Re: What is (and is not) "Negative Space"? (And how do you use it.)

Goethe wrote:

stevo23 wrote:

Goethe wrote:

Barry Twycross wrote:

There's a challenge being judged now for "Negative Space". I'm not sure my concept of negative space is the same as many of the entrants.

This question is not specifically about the challenge, but the concept in general.

What, to you, is negative space?

What, to you, is not negative space?

How do you effectively use it in a photo?

How do you feature it in a photo?

Some negative space photos of mine over the years.

a journey into negative space on the temporarily flightless wings of dark birds

The question to ask is not "how do you use negative space" but "how does the negative space in a given photo contribute to the goal?"

But if the goal of the photo is negative space then thinking how to use it, how to create it, is integral.

Not sure I ever have negative space as a goal, so not sure how that works.

I feel that if a person things, "I need to learn how to use negative space", they are likely not focusing on the primary aspects of composition and will be unlikely to use negative space well.

Negative space is not entirely about composition per se. Composition is always sort of a finalization tool in an image, and negative photography is no exception. Negative space is more of a primary consideration in which you are looking for shapes rather then textures.

Then I wonder if you're not talking about figure to ground relationship?

Blankness, nothingness, voids...these must be visualized and recognized in the landscape before composition even comes into play.

I don't know if I would agree with that unless you mean thinking in broader, low detail terms (ie, blurring the scene to see certain relationships without being distracted by detail).

I'm attracted to a subject and think about how I want to portray it and then the elements I want to use. Or sometimes, the scene is there and I back into those thoughts as a check.

Not a criticism of your photos BTW - some nice work there. But when I see the negative space in them, I'm thinking of several things like GAC or FGR or even infinity. But I'm not sure I would have thought "I need to make this about negative space" had I been taking the shots.

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