Extreme Negative Space

jhob

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I guess what I am saying however is that when I look at images, I don't look at them based on just that element or how well that element is used. I look at the entire image.
I doubt that many would disagree with you there. However I would argue that there is value as a learning tool in concentrating on particular facet of the photography and setting aside concerns of the image as a whole.

I think most people enjoy photographs on their merits without deconstructing them. I also think that a lot of people learn photography by specifically deconstructing photographs that they like and evaluating why that photograph worked and then thinking about how they might bring those elements of photography into their own work so as to improve. This will often be by mimicry at first but this will generally evolve into something that is their own. Part of this process is about experimentation with that concept, which is what I would say this thread is about. This is certainly one of the routes that I take to learn photography and many other things in life and I imagine that many others learn similarly.
 

deirdre

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From the original post, I like the first and last the best, but I think the first is the best because of the gradation of the sky contrasting with the foreground. The last would be better if the center element were larger and in a better place composition-wise.
 

Djarum

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I doubt that many would disagree with you there. However I would argue that there is value as a learning tool in concentrating on particular facet of the photography and setting aside concerns of the image as a whole.

I think most people enjoy photographs on their merits without deconstructing them. I also think that a lot of people learn photography by specifically deconstructing photographs that they like and evaluating why that photograph worked and then thinking about how they might bring those elements of photography into their own work so as to improve. This will often be by mimicry at first but this will generally evolve into something that is their own. Part of this process is about experimentation with that concept, which is what I would say this thread is about. This is certainly one of the routes that I take to learn photography and many other things in life and I imagine that many others learn similarly.
Well said, and I do appologize. I guess what I was and am still confused about then is whether you wanted the forum to evaluate your images based on the use of negative space or the pictures as a whole.
 

jhob

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On reflection I think it might be more appropriate to describe 'extreme negative space' as 'main subject small in the frame' as that is more the defining characteristic of these photographs.


I came across this image today which I consider a very good use of this concept:

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Photograph: Lee Smith/Action Images

The expanse of emptiness in the frame really strengthens the sense of anticipation and of the boxer (Amir Khan) being on his own for the coming fight. It is a very lonely image filled with tension.
 

jhob

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BillN

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On reflection I think it might be more appropriate to describe 'extreme negative space' as 'main subject small in the frame' as that is more the defining characteristic of these photographs.


I came across this image today which I consider a very good use of this concept:

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Photograph: Lee Smith/Action Images

The expanse of emptiness in the frame really strengthens the sense of anticipation and of the boxer (Amir Khan) being on his own for the coming fight. It is a very lonely image filled with tension.
Can I say "it's all about the image" not any space
 

jhob

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Can I say "it's all about the image" not any space
You can, and it is. However in this instance I would argue that it is primarily the use of space that makes the image. I cannot see this picture working if it were a close crop on the boxer, the atmosphere and tension would be lost.
 

BillN

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You can, and it is. However in this instance I would argue that it is primarily the use of space that makes the image. I cannot see this picture working if it were a close crop on the boxer, the atmosphere and tension would be lost.
but aren't these the arguments for any image - (or not) - it's the space, (or content) around the image (or not) that (helps) to make the image (or not) a "success" - or a "good"image - (or not)

sorry about the ( or nots)

I don't see space I see content - but I'm not in any way technical or an expert
 

jhob

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I would say that the space has to be content as it is physically contained within the frame. It's there whether you like it or not and will have a bearing on the success or otherwise of a photograph depending on how it has been used.

In most (but certainly not all) cases the space won't be the subject, but it is always content.

My 2p anyway!
 

dsteady

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Not sure if it qualifies, but it was inspired by your previous lamp post shots.

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floppymoose

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#4 works
why?
it uses the rule of 1/3rds best, the subject is larger, and as a whole, it is better balanced.

For "Negative Space" to work, the general composition rules apply.
That's why #4 works out of the bunch.

Keep trying it out, it is bit more difficult, but can be skill worth having.
Just found this thread. I found it interesting that I agreed with you on which photo in the OP worked best, but for entirely different reasons.

To me, the 4th photo works best because the "negative space" is helping to tell the story. In the other three it isn't doing much, but in 4, it's part of the story of the photo.... which could be " a spot of warmth in a sea of cold" ... or "mans work vying against nature"... or however you interpret that shot.
 

GaryAyala

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#1
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#2
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#3
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#4
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s0nus

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I've been experimenting with extreme negative space recently, mostly using the sky as that negative space.

Just wondering what you make of these images as it's the first time that I have intentionally played around with this concept.

Does anyone else have examples of their work using extreme negative space that they would like to share? I'm interested in seeing other interpretations of this concept.
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I think the first two are pleasing images, and work in a "desktop background" sort of way. They evoke a sense of cold stoicism as in .. "I'm a tree, and I'll be here when you're gone, through this winter and the next".

The third I like best. A bird on a lamppost, alone in the world. And yet, he is king of that lamppost, high in the sky, and untouchable. I like it.

The fourth is interesting because it took me a while to discern what it was (a manhole cover?). You never know what's under the snow ....

Below are some examples from my own shots that I think fit the bill.

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s0nus

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Maybe I just see things different. Images are about INTENT. Regardless of the success of the image or not. So, what I see in John's attempts. is....

Being that he intentionally made Extreme Negative Space using the sky for it and putting an object in somewhere to make the statement,

I see the sky not as negative space at all but the subject of the image.
His intent is clear. The tree, lamp etc could be seen as the Negative Space. He just inserted something to create contrast to the implied negative space.

In the above examples, the one with the dogs and the sky.
It is easy to see the dogs as the subject surrounded by the sky and that makes the sky, negative space.

In images, negative space is usually used to create visual tension. It does not have to be a large area but could be.

I hope that I'm not being misunderstood. In a portrait , the subject would be seen as the intent, or and I hate to do it this way....positive space....hate saying that...
the background, even a building etc... would be the negative space.
Interesting.

If I understand you correctly, my personal reaction to the OP's images was quite the opposite. I was drawn to the trees and the bird on the post, which I felt were the subjects.

Hmmm ... thinking about it some more, the subject may be more than the those objects, but rather their place in the world. In this case, they are show in front of an expansive sky, which to me conveys a sense of timelessness and a sort of loneliness. In short, the image obviously doesn't work as intended without the sky - it is integral to the image. With this in mind, there is no division between subject and background - they are one.
 

Streetshooter

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Exactly my point. Negative space is usually positive space anyway.
I'm tired and my brains on vacation. Excuse the short post.
Don
 

floppymoose

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Gary, here is my honest and naive feedback on your 4 shots above:
#1) love it
#2) love it, but would have preferred color
#3) love it, and think the B&W choice works there
#4) not feelin' it

I hope this was helpful in some way but understand if it wasn't.
 

GaryAyala

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Gary, here is my honest and naive feedback on your 4 shots above:
#1) love it
#2) love it, but would have preferred color
#3) love it, and think the B&W choice works there
#4) not feelin' it

I hope this was helpful in some way but understand if it wasn't.
Thanks Floppymoose ... yeah #4 is rather static and cold in a bad way. I get volunteered at a local high school and shoot a lot of their stuff. #1 and #3 are from their talent shows ... remembering way back to my high school days ... man, I'd be so intimidated to perform in front of an audience ... this is how I think I'd feel.

#5
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G
 

Jdumas

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Great discussion and very inspiring. Controlling the ever present wandering eye is very challenging.

My take this afternoon.
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nseika

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Somehow, if the object in the empty spaces are too small and too much in the edge, especially lower edge, they starts to seem like bugging nuisance to the negative space instead of being emphasized. My eyes naturally scan from the centre of the picture and calmed down there, but that small irregularities then keep trying to ruin the calmness.
The picture starts to feel it would look better without the object itself.

Some of the examples in the earlier page gave me that sensation.
Could it possibly because I’m viewing the pictures on screen (with scrolling) instead of print ?

Just me ?
 
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I think I would tend to agree that if the subject is too small it shouldn't be placed on the very extremities. I like Gary's placement of the small subjects in the shots of the performers.

The following is a shot of mine I found which makes use of negative space, although the subject is possibly too big to call it extreme negative space.

<a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/55915417@N08/5280278182/" title="PB200500-PPR Olympus Pen E-P1 Micro 4/3 by Lucky.penguin, on Flickr">View attachment 156819"426" height="640" alt="PB200500-PPR Olympus Pen E-P1 Micro 4/3" /></a>
 
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