Photography, in a nut shell, is lines, shapes, colors, and feelings

In photography negative space is perhaps the most important element as it embraces the subject within your image — the element of interest — helping it stand out and inviting the viewer’s attention.  It is the aspect within a photograph that generally doesn’t attract much attention.  It is sometimes referred to as white space and has the potential to change what appears to be an average subject into an outstanding image.

The simplest example of positive and negative are the words in this blog.  These words draw your attention while the background doesn’t.  The words are positive space, and the white background is negative space

Negative space awakens feelings of peace, calm, quiet, loneliness, isolation. It is less about the subject within a photograph and more about awakening a feeling in the viewer.

Negative space can create a sense of lightness, airiness…it can strengthen the positive emotions in a photography, emphasize the feelings of your subject, conveying whatever story you as a photographer wishes to evoke in your viewer.

Negative space provides “breathing room” giving the viewer’s eyes a place to rest and preventing an image from appearing too cluttered…creating a more engaging composition.

Negative space, in the world of photography, may be more important especially if the photographer tends towards creating images that are simple; yet effective. Michael Kenna, Bruce Percy, and Masao Yamamoto are three artists known for their minimalistic images.

This week’s lens artists’ host is Amy (The World is a Book). Hop on over and join in the fun.

I’m continuing this series of contemplative photography with an exploration of the element of space.  Andy Kerr and Michael Wood at Seeing Fresh note that the challenge in their space assignment is to shift our intention from seeing forms in space to seeing visual space itself; that is, the space that surrounds things and space that is between things.

Opening myself to seeing space as around and between objects

John McQuade and Miriam Hall invited me to drop my orientation to things by introducing dot-in-space.  My understanding of dot-in-space began with a review of a previous post a photo study: negative space in which I wrote:

In photography negative space is perhaps the most important element as it embraces the subject within your image — the element of interest — helping it stand out and inviting the viewer’s attention.  It is the aspect within a photograph that generally doesn’t attract much attention.  It is sometimes referred to as white space and has the potential to change what appears to be an average subject into an outstanding image. 

It is easy to focus our attention on the subject, on what we see as the most important element of the photograph. Adding to or taking away negative space affects the subject within an image as they effectively become smaller or larger within the frame of your image. 

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simplification and negative space

McQuade and Hall write:

When we see, we always see something. … Seeing something means that we see a foreground dot against a background space…you cannot simply see or make an image of space. An image of the clear, blue sky would not likely be a perception or an image of space.  It might look somewhat blank and not very dynamic, but perception is always dynamic… A cloud in the sky would cause the sky itself to fall into the background of the cloud, which then becomes the foreground (the dot.)

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dot in foreground

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space in foreground

In photographing space, McQuade and Hall suggest that I invert the relationship between the dot and the space so that the dot becomes a supportive element for dynamic space.  When the dot recedes to the visual background, the space element assumes the function of the foreground.   The dot (which often occupies an edge or corner of an image) then, serves as an anchor.

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McQuade and Hall furthers their discussion of space by encouraging the photographer to open the self to the subtlety of space which moves beyond the dot and to the experience of space.  Within this level, a trace element of the dot within these images are always present, but it is not the focus.

…the main quality of visual space is that it is pervasive…it is a feature of the whole perception.

…pay attention to how your eye and mind react. If one, your eye doesn’t land somewhere, but instead, is buoyed by an overall space; and if two, your mind does not fixate somewhere but, at least initially, rests in a sense of expanse, then this is an equivalent image of space. 

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As with all mind shifts this aspect of contemplative photography has nudged me outside my usual way of seeing the world.  Negative space in other photographic genres is a means to embrace the subject within your image — the element of interest — helping it stand out.  In contrast, contemplative photography invites the subject to move into the background so that space becomes the element of interest.

As always I would love to read your comments and view your images.  Let’s tag with #aphotostudy.

Within the website Seeing Fresh, visitors will find an introduction to Karr and Wood’s discussion of contemplative photography as well as a series of photographic assignments on color, texture, simplicity, light, and space that include representative images.

Life seems to invite periods of time in which I think, “I’ve been here before.”  For example, my first readings about contemplative photography occurred about 6-7 years ago.  Even though this genre resonated with me, I chose to put it aside as there was limited resources on the internet and what training programs I was able to find were a bit outside of my financial resources.   

In June of this year, I began to explore contemplative photography as part of this A Photo Study project.  Today, this 12th posting of contemplative photography has been motivated by A Karr and M Wood’s discussion of “simplicity” within their book, The Practice of Contemplative Photography  What I find interesting is that the January, 2018,  blog of this project was, A Photo Study: Simplification and Negative Space, which was inspired by one of Ted Forbes’ composition videos.

https://youtu.be/lKc-0QEbZbo

Even though life seems to move in a linear progression from birth to death; at times like this I find myself wondering if there are periods of time in which there are episodes of circular movements within one’s life journey in which we are “presently” invited to pause and reflect upon our “past”  before time nudges us into a new present, our future.  

Well, I think I’ve digressed from this week’s photo study, simplicity.  Karr and Wood note that their simplicity exercise is to open us to the relationship between form and space, to open ourselves to the experience of simplicity without seeking an external validation of our concept of simplicity.

Space intensifies the experience of form, and simple form intensifies the experience of space.  … Simplicity and space are aspects of our perception. Visual space can be produced by a red wall, a length of gray fabric…a smooth beach…a backdrop of dark shadows, gray pavement…sky..  An object seen seen against any unadorned expanse will be surrounded by visual space. 

Their definition of space brings to mind the post, Negative Space,  in which I wrote:

In photography negative space is perhaps the most important element as it embraces the subject within your image — the element of interest — helping it stand out and inviting the viewer’s attention.  It is the aspect within a photograph that generally doesn’t attract much attention.  It is sometimes referred to as white space and has the potential to change what appears to be an average subject into an outstanding image

For this exercise, Kerr and Wood encourage a point of departure in which our intention should be to recognize perception where form and space produce strong contrasts—where the experience of form is weighted because of the space around it.   …to look at one thing at a time.  Look at objects and also look at their environment.  Don’t hurry. Proceed in a relaxed way that allow you to see the space around things, not just the things themselves.

The first series of the images in the slideshow below are of a couple of photo walks directed by my understanding, thus far, of contemplative photography especially in regards to flash of perspective, visual discernment, and forming the equivalent, comparable to what I perceived—nothing more, nothing less.  

 

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The second series of images in the slide show below are part of the images I created as part of the simplification and negative space blogs posted earlier this year.  These images, I believe, were created by a natural inclination towards flash of perspectives, visual discernment, and a bit of digital darkroom creative exploration.  

 

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I enjoy the creative playgrounds offered by Photoshop, Capture One, and Nik.  Am looking forward to a comparison of images you created in repose to the earlier blogs on simplification and negative space with those of simplicity as defined within contemplative photography.  Please tag with #aphotostudy. 

Photography, in a nut shell, is lines, shapes, colors, and feelings

In photography negative space is perhaps the most important element as it embraces the subject within your image — the element of interest — helping it stand out and inviting the viewer’s attention.  It is the aspect within a photograph that generally doesn’t attract much attention.  It is sometimes referred to as white space and has the potential to change what appears to be an average subject into an outstanding image.

shapes-24web

The simplest example of positive and negative are the words in this blog.  These words draw your attention while the background doesn’t.  The words are positive space, and the white background is negative space

Some images have high amounts of positive space creating what some identify as busy, cluttered, crowded creative works. These types of images generally reflect the busy nature of the scene being photographed.

studyofrhythumtone

The elements of positive and negative space are two elements of photography that are important because of the emotions they evoke. Images created with high amounts of positive space have the potential to evoke feelings of power, strength, action, chaos,  busyness, or…as in the image above…anticipation.

Negative space, in contrast, awakens feelings of peace, calm, quiet, loneliness, isolation. It is less about the subject within a photograph and more about awakening a feeling in the viewer.

shapesoddtrianglesweb

Negative space can create a sense of lightness, airiness…it can strengthen the positive emotions in a photography, emphasize the feelings of your subject, conveying whatever story you as a photographer wishes to evoke in your viewer.

duckswebNegative space provides “breathing room” giving the viewer’s eyes a place to rest and preventing an image from appearing too cluttered…creating a more engaging composition.

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Negative space generally mutes detail or color; yet, in some cases well-defined buildings and people can act as negative space as it conveys a story or evokes feelings.

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It is easy to focus our attention on the subject, on what we see as most important element of the photograph. Adding to or taking away negative space affects the subject within an image as they effectively become smaller or larger within the frame of your image.

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At first, it seems that to set out to find empty space may be a difficult undertaking; yet, searching for elements that don’t stand out becomes more natural over time…try including the sky in your composition…it is expansive, everywhere, and often filled with negative space.

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Our mind formulates ideas about how objects in our world look and that is the reason an art instructor may invite her class to draw an object upside down. This engages the eye to see as opposed to allowing the mind to impose a preconceived idea into a drawing.

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Unfortunately these preconceptions distort the way we see a scene, and this can lead to photographs that we see as good, but not so in reality. My readings noted that a way to step out of the boundary of our minds is to ignore the objects in the scene altogether and instead concentrate on the gaps between and around them. This also aids in giving more attention to composition and seeing sizes and shapes in a more accurate manner.

Negative space, in the world of photography, may be more important especially if the photographer tends towards creating images that are simple; yet effective. Michael Kenna, Bruce Percy, and Masao Yamamoto are three artists known for their minimalistic images.

Examples of images that “focuses” on specific compositional tools are an invaluable learning tool. I hope you enjoy seeing these amazing images offered through Ted Forbes.

In closing, I’m deeply grateful for the exchange of ideas and images that I have experienced thus far in this photo study project and am looking forward to reading your thoughts and seeing your images.

Someone once shared with me her personal goal of reading one book of child psychology for a week over the course of a year.  She then asked, “Would that result in me becoming an expert?”

Off and on over the years, I have found myself pondering this exchange.  About three weeks ago, while watching a Ted Forbes YouTube video I wondered, “how would my photography change if I was to “focus” on a particular element of photography each week for a year while also including various past lessons into my images throughout that week?

Well…I’m into my third week of this journey,  The first week was exploring focusing techniques; the second, rule of odds; and this week, simplification and negative space.

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At this time, it is my intention to review my journey and share a photo video each Saturday.  If you wish to join me, I would enjoy hearing and seeing your photo journey.

Simplification and Negative Space (Ted Forbes, The Art of Photography)