Lens-Artists Photo Challenge – Negative Space

For this week’s Lens-Artists challenge, Amy asks us to think negative, er, ah, negatively speaking, er, I mean, consider negative space. (OK, time to get serious.)

Amy writes in part, “Negative space is the area around the main subject of your photograph. This space is empty or unoccupied.” You can read Amy’s entire challenge post here.

My opening photo demonstrates how close-up and macro photography often make use of the bokeh generated by focusing closely on a nearby object. The background blurs or even generates circular patterns that serve to highlight the subject.

Another way to emphasize negative space is to create a high-key image such as this shot of boats working near the Seattle shoreline. Emphasizing highlights and overexposing the image in post-processing allows the background to all but disappear creating that large negative space. The viewer is either immediately drawn to the subject boats, or to the dark wave lining the bottom of the image. Following that line, the eyes are drawn to the boats.

Of course, if you can go light, you can go dark, create the subject as a silhouette, and the light background becomes the negative space. The image above of a rider on a ridge was captured during the opening sequence of a performance at the Burning Hills Amphitheater during their annual summer Medora Musical in Medora, North Dakota.

Of course, you don’t need to wash out or darken the image to create negative space. The large expanse of sky over the mountains near the Bosque del Apache reserve serves to provide the negative space that isolates the two subject snow geese in flight.

The subject doesn’t have to be far away either to use negative space. The Harris Hawk in the image above is captured below a backdrop of nearly completely overcast skies.

For my final challenge-response image, a high-key conversion in post-processing focuses on a lone fisherman trying his luck at the Outer Banks in North Carolina. I conclude with my usual reminder that in most browsers, these images can be better seen by selecting the image to view in a larger format. Thanks to Amy for another great photo challenge subject.

John Steiner

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