Accentuate the Positive, by Considering the Negative

Negative space, or the area of a photo which is not the subject, is something to consider when you are composing a photo. A trip to the zoo is a great place to try out some different options. The flamingos are a favorite of mine, for their pink color and curvaceous necks. Add their long legs and black bills and they become the fashion plates of the animal kingdom, if you ask me.

Usually, flamingos can be found standing in a large group around a water source. Sometimes, I prefer to use most of the flock as a subject and include very little negative space.

_MG_4620And other times, I choose to focus on just a few and incorporate more negative space. Here, I included water in the negative space to gain a sense of place in the photo.

_MG_4613Just a couple of them are the focus next.

_MG_4611-2Finally, I choose to highlight a single bird.

IMG_9092I decide to emphasize the curves of the neck by only including part of the body and using more negative space.

When determining how to compose a shot of the zebra, I chose a similar composition.

IMG_9126Using a solid colored or soft focused negative space will emphasize the subject by making it stand out. The gorilla reaching for a leaf is small and a little lost in the space in this composition.

IMG_9104A method of re-composing a shot to bring the subject closer and cut down on too much busy negative space is cropping. The result…

gorilla cropin my opinion, this is more effective at conveying the sweet moment.

You don’t want to always rely on post processing for composing your shots but there are times when it can make an impact.

By being aware of the negative space in your photos, you can avoid having things “growing or sticking out of” your subjects heads and cutting off limbs, feet or hands in the edges.

There is no right or wrong way of utilizing the positive and negative space. This is where you get to be creative!

There are times when the negative space can become the positive space and vice versa; as in Edgar Rubin’s optical illusion painting of the vase and the two faces.

This week, I will be staring at the vase and then the faces, no, wait the faces and then the vase …

~ Susan


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