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08/13/2003 07:31:11 PM · #1
Ok, there aren't enough discussions around definitions and terminology around here, so let's have another one ;)

What is the definition most people are using for "negative space" ?

To me this is the empty space that forms around or between objects - the space between two fence posts is negative space, while the space physically occupied by the fence posts is not.

However, it seems some folks mean "anything other than the main subject of your photograph" to be negative space.

One example is this photo that placed very well in the original negative space challenge. I love this photo, but based on my understanding of the term negative space - I don't really see how it is being used here.

Could someone clarify if there are multiple ways this term is used in photography?


08/13/2003 07:35:36 PM · #2
even though the negative space in that example you showed isn't technicaly "empty", it's pretty uniforme. If the enviroment had bigger bushes, tree trunks, etc, (anything to break the uniformity of *just* the grass) would have broken the negative space aspect of the photograph and would have scored lower (IMO).
08/13/2003 10:33:35 PM · #3
This is the definition of negative space that is in my college drawing textbook: negative space - The space surrounding a positive shape; sometimes referred to as ground, empty space, interspace, field, or void.
I agree with mtreit... I don't see the negative space in the biking photo. The whole photo is filled with positive shapes. The negative space is not at all dramatic...it is practically non-existant.
08/13/2003 11:13:54 PM · #4
I think the negative space can have detail, be any color or even just be plain old black or white. I think you can have as much or as little of it too in the photo. The negative space in a picture is supposed to enhance the subject, and I think it does in the example you are talking about.
08/13/2003 11:22:33 PM · #5
Negative space is really an artwork/painting concept. It refers to what is not your subject. Negative space is any non-distracting, non-important background that enhances the shape, action or size of the subject.


Hope it helps.
08/13/2003 11:28:43 PM · #6
If you look at the original photo, I think the negative space makes you say "wow"! If it didn't have all the negative space it would look like these and it just doesn't say wow like the original.

' . substr('//www.sonifopictures.com/neg1.jpg', strrpos('//www.sonifopictures.com/neg1.jpg', '/') + 1) . '

' . substr('//www.sonifopictures.com/neg2.jpg', strrpos('//www.sonifopictures.com/neg2.jpg', '/') + 1) . '

It does matter how much space you have in some photos but in others like this one Sunflower just a small amount will make the you say "wow" because of the detail.
This is my opinion. The best advice is pay attention to your background.

This challenge was the challenge that help me look at all of my photo and not just the subject. Remember takes lots of photos and not just 10. Redo it if you have to, to get it just right. Good luck!!!
08/13/2003 11:31:16 PM · #7
Originally posted by mavrik:

Negative space is really an artwork/painting concept. It refers to what is not your subject. Negative space is any non-distracting, non-important background that enhances the shape, action or size of the subject.


Hope it helps.

Very well said!!!!!
08/13/2003 11:59:34 PM · #8
Here is an excellent article applying negative/positive space to photogtaphy.


Now I have to throw out the photograph I was going to submit.

08/14/2003 01:09:31 AM · #9
Thanks Dennis, it's a great article! I never really thought about the "positive space" which should "lead your eye in and out of the photo..." and to/from the main subject. Great stuff.
08/14/2003 01:58:14 AM · #10
someone pointed out to me from my film photography that i'm a negative space whore. and i am.

so let me explain what i think negative space is.

in a two dimension photographic image, there is no such thing as true negative space. there's always something behind something. even the blank white you will get sometimes is really something else, like air, a wall, etc.

so what negative space is in a photo is the area that points of attention, or subjects, aren't in. for instance, in the bike picture, it's the area around the rider and his bicycle. yes, there's something there, but it's uniform and textural enough that it doesn't draw one's attention as anything more than a large essentially empty space.

similarly, if you know what you're doing, "poor" depth of field can be used to create negative space by selectively focusing on something, while blurring the details on everything else. so the space around the subject becomes essentially empty.

it's more about where your attention is directed.

Message edited by author 2003-08-14 01:59:08.
08/14/2003 04:00:21 AM · #11
Originally posted by Arachnophilia:

...it's more about where your attention is directed.

My exact sentiment. When the NON-distracting surrounding space succeeds in funneling the viewer's attention to the intended focus, then I'll rate the pic high. There may be occasional 'breaks' in space, but these shouldn't scatter the focus at all, if the photographer really knows his/her stuff.

[edited for not being all-inclusive on the first go. oops:)]

Message edited by author 2003-08-14 04:01:39.
08/15/2003 08:09:24 PM · #12
Hey Folks, great discussion. Gave me a much greater understanding of the purpose served by negative space.
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