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

Started 3 months ago | Discussions thread
stevo23 Forum Pro • Posts: 22,430
Re: What is (and is not) "Negative Space"? (And how do you use it.)

Goethe wrote:

stevo23 wrote:

Goethe wrote:

stevo23 wrote:

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.

And yet you are arguing how it works.

So it would seem. IE, I wouldn't start with negative space as a goal.

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?

No, although a lot of what I posted featured silhouettes. In a negative space photo the image is about, well, 'negative space'. It is a concentrated and purposeful lack of positive structure placed around the positive element of the image. You really have to go into the image creation process thinking about this type of result. I mean, sometimes it can happen serendipitously due to the random factor built into the universe. But if you are trying to create such an image you have to look at it differently then how you would create other types of image from the very beginning.

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.

Right, but you just said above that you're 'not sure you ever have negative space as a goal..."

A negative space image is just as much about the space around your primary subject as the subject itself. Your mind needs to be thinking about nothingness and how to portray that. Incidentally you have that main subject (possibly) that you then work into the scene.

Also, the 'nothingness' I speak about can have texture and color, to some degree. But that is a whole other issue.

So you're making nothingness the subject then. That seems different from negative space which some see as an element of composition. Not trying to be argumentative, just not sure I get what's being proposed here.

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