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Negative space


Time for an update: I still use film, though. Not vast quantities, but I have a darkroom, and I'm not afraid to use it.

I enjoy every image I take: I hope you'll enjoy looking at them.
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Negative space

5 Apr 2020 9:12AM   Views : 395 Unique : 276


Iíve tried hard to write this blog day by day. Sometimes, I know what each word Iíll be exploring, and sometimes not. So this morning I was scratching round for a photographic N.

Negative space is an odd concept in compositionÖ Itís about using what isnít there as a positive part of your image. This is a bit of a paradox, and Iíll suggest that paradox is an important part of art and life in general. People who can cope with the idea that contradictory ideas need to coexist are often the most creative and at ease with the world.

If you remember a bit of mechanics from maths, you may want ot think of negative space as being a very long lever. Youíre balancing something large (the space) with something small (the subject) Ė and yet, somehow, it works. If central and symmetrical is boring, and moving off-centre is interesting, maybe moving offcentre to the max will make it more so. Possibly to the maxÖ


Now, itís possible that one of my more analytical friends can suggest what the rules of negative space are: but itís beyond me to say more than that I know when it looks right, and I sometimes spend time thinking about exactly how far to push the subject towards the edge. It varies with different subjects, definitely: some stuff needs to be comfortably towards the edge of the frame, while other objects demand to be right up against the margin.

And I think negative space may be easier to accept for some subjects than others. In my own special area, portraits and nudes, most photographers tend towards making the model fill the frame. It can be fascinating, though, to make the viewer work for the image, look round the frame to find and appreciate a small figure in a much broader context.

Anyway, if you havenít tried it before, go and shoot a picture today that involves negative space, and put a link to it below when you post it.

After all, itís pretty likely that youíve got time to play with a new concept at the moment, even though it may be hard to execute images in a crowded homeÖ


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chase Avatar
chase Plus
18 2.6k 684 England
5 Apr 2020 11:27AM
I like negative space when it adds to the image, other than that it can be very wasted space, used correctly it looks great.

Thanks for these blog posts John, I really find them very interesting.
dudler Avatar
dudler Plus
20 2.2k 2063 England
5 Apr 2020 2:26PM
Thanks, Janet - it's pushing me to think! And when I finish the alphabet, I might do something brave, like ask for suggestions overnight for new topics...

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