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

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Barry Twycross Senior Member • Posts: 1,592
What is (and is not) "Negative Space"? (And how do you use it.)

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?

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Donald B
Donald B Forum Pro • Posts: 13,512
Re: What is (and is not) "Negative Space"? (And how do you use it.)
1

negative space was invented for all the non-artistic photographers to think they were artistic. kind of an example.

Don

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stevo23 Forum Pro • Posts: 22,782
Re: What is (and is not) "Negative Space"? (And how do you use it.)
2

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?

It's not really a "thing" so much as a consequence of one or more of several compositional techniques.

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tex Veteran Member • Posts: 7,917
That's totally incorrect /nt
7
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tex Veteran Member • Posts: 7,917
Negative space is everything but the subject's form.
2

It's a visual art term/concept.  It's easiest seen in photography in shallow dof images where the background is a complete blur, or in BIF images when the bird is against a blank sky, or "Rembrandt" style portraits, or Avedon style ones against a blank background, & etc.

It's possible to have virtually no negative space, for instance in an image with deep dof where the subject is spread out throughout the frame.  It's possible to have patchy negative space.

It's easier in the other visual arts because everything in the frame is put there deliberately, including the negative space.  In photography, things get a bit more complicated, because negative space doesn't really exist in nature---it's an aesthetic , formal construct of composition.  There is no composition in nature.  Inasmuch as photography "just" captures nature, and that the photographer doesn't really place things there (typically), the idea is a bit dodgier in photography.  But it can still easily exist.

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Horoscope Fish
Horoscope Fish Contributing Member • Posts: 909
Re: What is (and is not) "Negative Space"? (And how do you use it.)
3

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?

Good article on Negative Space:

https://www.creativebloq.com/art/art-negative-space-8133765

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lilBuddha Veteran Member • Posts: 4,377
Re: That's totally incorrect /nt
6

tex wrote:

Mention anything related to art and things quickly get stupid around here.

New Day Rising
New Day Rising Senior Member • Posts: 2,971
Re: That's totally incorrect /nt
3

lilBuddha wrote:

tex wrote:

Mention anything related to art and things quickly get stupid around here.

Apparently photography doesn't have anything to do with art. I'm sure I read one of our members expressing that view and he is always right.

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lilBuddha Veteran Member • Posts: 4,377
Re: What is (and is not) "Negative Space"? (And how do you use it.)

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?

The space around the subject that accentuates the subject by being in contrast or muted in some way.

What, to you, is not negative space?

That kinda doesn't make sense outside of evaluating specific examples.

How do you effectively use it in a photo?

Effective is subjective and also evaluated on an individual image basis. However, I consider it successful if the negative image not only fades from immediate view, but also draw attention to the subject in a more dynamic fashion and/or a more subtle way.

How do you feature it in a photo?

Isn't this the same question as the last one?

lilBuddha Veteran Member • Posts: 4,377
Re: What is (and is not) "Negative Space"? (And how do you use it.)

Horoscope Fish 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?

Good article on Negative Space:

https://www.creativebloq.com/art/art-negative-space-8133765

That is a good article. Though, that is graphic art and it is easier to control the space.

Negative space in photography can be more complicated or subtle.

One can go to the effective, but often boring, technique of merely blurring the background, of course. This article is a little light on examples, but a couple should more interesting uses of negative space.

Some good examples here as well.

Horoscope Fish
Horoscope Fish Contributing Member • Posts: 909
Re: What is (and is not) "Negative Space"? (And how do you use it.)

lilBuddha wrote:

Horoscope Fish 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?

Good article on Negative Space:

https://www.creativebloq.com/art/art-negative-space-8133765

That is a good article. Though, that is graphic art and it is easier to control the space.

Negative space in photography can be more complicated or subtle.

Agreed. That being said, neither of those factors (complexity, subtlety) alter what Negative Space inherently IS.

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DenWil
DenWil Veteran Member • Posts: 4,005
Re: What is (and is not) "Negative Space"? (And how do you use it.)

In focus, out of focus -has nothing to do with it.

You design it into your framing for any number reasons not the least viable of which is to give the art director /editor a place to insert copy.

I sometimes like  to wipe the frame of anything distracting from the subject. The side(s)  of a landscape orientation image  or the top of a portrait orientation shot.

The exact opposite of filling the frame with all sorts of stuff - potentially to heavily diffuse  or for the viewer to explore. Depends on your mood, the content  and the available options.

Also handy in some instances  if you may need both gatefold and single page versions of the same image

.

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New Day Rising
New Day Rising Senior Member • Posts: 2,971
Re: What is (and is not) "Negative Space"? (And how do you use it.)
1

I think others have explained it well, but to me it is deliberately blank or featureless space in an image used to accentuate a subject and/or to create a dramatic contrast.

I like to use it to firmly separate a small element of the image, or to give a sense of proportion. Sometimes I am able to use it to create a particular emotion, such as a sense of isolation. Other times it is to achieve a consciously minimalist effect. Here are some examples that I was able to find easily (I really do need to organise my photos better).

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biza43 Forum Pro • Posts: 10,815
Re: What is (and is not) "Negative Space"? (And how do you use it.)

Barry Twycross wrote:

What, to you, is negative space?

As defined

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Negative_space

More related to photography:

"Elements of an image that distract from the intended subject, or in the case of photography, objects in the same focal plane, are not considered negative space. Negative space may be used to depict a subject in a chosen medium by showing everything around the subject, but not the subject itself. Use of negative space will produce a silhouette of the subject. Most often, negative space is used as a neutral or contrasting background to draw attention to the main subject, which then is referred to as the positive space."

What, to you, is not negative space?

Positive space.

How do you effectively use it in a photo?

To draw attention to the main subject.

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MediaArchivist
MediaArchivist Veteran Member • Posts: 5,238
Good example.

New Day Rising wrote:

This is a really good visual description of what I think of as "negative space."

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MediaArchivist
MediaArchivist Veteran Member • Posts: 5,238
Samples:

Over in the challenges section of this site, there is a challenge specifically for negative space. The entries can give you an idea of how other people think of it, and use it.

https://www.dpreview.com/challenges/Challenge.aspx?ID=13810

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tko Forum Pro • Posts: 12,947
uhm
5

lilBuddha wrote:

tex wrote:

Mention anything related to art and things quickly get stupid around here.

Are you saying that when you mention something about gear or technology, things magically become smart?

Read the responses under the "why are lenses" round thread."

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lost alaskan
lost alaskan Contributing Member • Posts: 906
Re: What is (and is not) "Negative Space"? (And how do you use it.)

Horoscope Fish 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?

Good article on Negative Space:

https://www.creativebloq.com/art/art-negative-space-8133765

Your link is to me is a whole new take on Negative Space. It seems more like optical illusion. This guy posts on the samples and galleries page once in a while, and I think he is the king of negative space. Or maybe it's jut minimalism.

https://www.dpreview.com/forums/thread/4403816#forum-post-62809166

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lilBuddha Veteran Member • Posts: 4,377
Re: uhm

tko wrote:

lilBuddha wrote:

tex wrote:

Mention anything related to art and things quickly get stupid around here.

Are you saying that when you mention something about gear or technology, things magically become smart?

Read the responses under the "why are lenses" round thread."

True

kiwi2
kiwi2 Veteran Member • Posts: 4,756
For me...
6

Barry Twycross wrote:

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?

This is what I think of as negative space...

While there is nothing to see between the water and the fog in the air that has taken on the same colour, it adds to the presentation of the subject which is the trees covered in hoar frost.

I deliberately framed the trees wider to use the negative space.

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