Negative Space


I travelled to Ruthin castle during the evening, where I took this image of a tree against the cloudy sky.. I positioned the tree to the right of the image, presenting negative space on the left. The silhouette effectz was intended to produce a ‘moody’ atmosphere to the picture.

Not much natural light was present, therefore instead of aiming to capture a highly detailed image I instead attempted  silhouette. When editing the image I found that it was not quite a silhouette, therefore altered the shadows in the Levels option on Photoshop CC. This would have been avoided if I had increased the shutter speed aperture to produce a darker image in order to achieve a silhouette of the Tree. The image is not complicated, instead simplistic but clearly shows the negative white space on the left, which was the aim.

When searching for a subject matter to show negative space I found the environment to be too ‘busy’ for the image that I set out to capture. When planning the style of pictures I analysed the work of Michael Kenna. Many of his images have a strong atmosphere with clear use of negative space to create the mood in each picture. I was especially influenced by his images of isolated trees as shown below.

The castle did not have land with isolated trees, so instead I only captured the upper section of the tree to ensure that other objects and trees were out of frame and to capture the simple cloudy sky around the tree. The final outcome did not achieve my first goal but still captured the negative space using a simplistic style, inspired by Michael Kenna.

In reflection changing location and spending more time on the particular style that I imagined would have aided in achieving that result. A large field could have been a better suited location and starting the shoot from the early morning may have produced more interesting silhouettes and possible morning fog that was regularly present during this time of shooting.



The second image was also positioned on one side with the other filled with negative space. This composition was to clearly identify the negative space within the picture. The first challenge for Line and Shape did not come across clear enough to the shapes and lines the view should notice and direct their attention to. Therefore I found the simplistic  approach with a large amount of negative space would not confuse the view and be immediately identifiable.

I used the lamp in my garden as the point of focus with a shallow depth of field to separate the lamp and bring the viewers attention straight to it. In Photoshop CC I changed the image to black and white using the LAB option and deleting the channels. I find that this method of changing an image to black and white presents bolder contrast compared to other methods such as the grayscale option. I was aiming towards an older, atmospheric effect therefore found that the monochrome version of the image achieved this better than colour.

I found myself taking less time to artistically analyse the situation before taking the picture. I used the natural low light conditions with the trees as the background. I used a shallow depth of field to blur out detail in order to produce the negative space, however now find that too much detail still remains. With the background more blurred it would have created stronger negative space with the lamp brought to focus further.

To conclude the outcome of the image showcases negative space but lacks depth and interest. If the background was darker it would have brought more atmosphere and mood. Along with a darker background the lamp could have been on, showing an orange glow that creates an interesting contrast with the rest of the monochrome image. Using the history brush, adding the colour back into the orange glow but leaving the rest of the image black and white would have produced a bolder image with further impact.


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