2017 PHOTOCHALLENGE, WEEK 43: Negative Space

This week, we’re going to experiment with Negative Space. Put simply, negative space is the area around your subject, rather than the subject itself. By creatively controlling this empty space around your subject, you can create some very dramatic effects: Adding vast space around your subject can help create beautifully minimalist images; controlling the space can help convey a desired tone or emotion; space can also be used to create interesting, unusual, or memorable compositions. When working with negative space, what’s not there can be just as important as what is there.

As always, let’s look at some examples:

the_sky_is_the_limit_smThe Sky is the limit – Kathrin & Stefan Marks

One of the most common uses of negative space is to create a minimalist image. In the shot above, the clouds (negative space) take up the vast majority of the image, yet the the actual subject itself (the bird) is comparatively small. Note how your eye instantly focuses on the bird– because the background is mostly empty and non-distracting, the bird is the first thing to capture the viewer’s attention. As well, having so much negative space makes for an interesting, memorable photo. (Much more-so than if it were an ordinary picture of a bird.)


blue_solo_smBlue Solo – Marcus Dumoulin

Negative space can also contribute to the mood of the image. In this shot, the negative space of the water and sky contribute to the overall feeling of solitude and isolation.


negative_space_smnegative space meeting – abby chicken

I quite like this photo. Though the two figures are the main subject, it’s the vast, empty separation between them that makes for a very interesting image.


cross_roads_smCross roads – Stef Lewandowski

Another technique is to use surrounding objects to shape the negative space into something interesting. In this shot, aptly named “Cross roads”, the buildings create a cross within the (empty) sky.


At the seaside – Trevor Wintle

Finally, landscapes are a very common (and easy) way to use negative space. One common method is to place the horizon just slightly above the bottom of the picture, for a fun, interesting composition. This often works well with a lone tree.

For this week’s challenge, everyone should use negative space to help enhance your overall image. Exactly how you use this negative space is up to you: The space can be big or small; it can form an interesting shape; it can help set the overall mood; or it can just be something fun and unusual. As always, I encourage creativity, or any out of the box ideas you may have. Get your camera, be creative, and enjoy!

The rules are pretty simple:

  • Post one original photograph (Your Image) shot each week per theme posted on this blog to Facebook, or Flickr (or all three). Tag the photo #photochallenge and #photochallenge2017
  • The shot should be a new shot you took for the current weekly theme, not something from your back catalog or someone else’s image.
  • Don’t leave home without your camera. Participating in the 2017 PhotoChallenge is fun and easy.

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About Eric Minbiole

Ever since I was a kid, I’ve been absolutely fascinated with anything technical– electronics, computers, cameras, gadgets, etc. Growing up, I loved taking things apart to see what was inside. While I couldn’t always put things back together, I loved trying to figure out how things work. Because of my love for all things technical, I pursued a degree in Electrical Engineering, and currently work as a Software Engineer. I’ve been fascinated with photography ever since borrowing my parents 110 film camera when I was young. It’s been a great hobby ever since: I love experimenting with photos, and trying new things. I especially love technical and/or trick photography. (“Gimmicks!”, as my wife jokingly calls them 😉 ) While I’m comfortable with the technical side of how to shoot, I struggle more with the artistic side of what to shoot in the first place. This is one reason I quite enjoy this group: There are fun, interesting ideas each week. I joined PhotoChallenge as a participant in 2014, and am amazed at how much this group has helped me learn. Each week, I look forward to the fun, creative challenges that Steve, Trevor, Gary, and Jeremy put together. Most importantly, the weekly challenges give me the motivation to get out there and take photos each week. (Otherwise, I suspect my camera might be gathering dust on the shelf.) As well, interacting with the fantastic members of the group– discussing suggestions, techniques, what works, what doesn’t– has been an invaluable help. I am absolutely thrilled to join the PhotoChallenge team– I’ve learned so much from the group, and hope that I can give back a little bit. If you’d like to see some of my photos, please check out my flickr page.