What is Negative Space in Nature Photography? An Easy Guide For Beginners

Negative space is something that most photographers know about and use, but it’s less common among beginners.

In this article, we’ll look at how to use negative space in your photos and why it can help you create better images.

What is Negative Space?

Negative space is the area that surrounds the subject of your photograph.

It is not empty. It is full of visual interest – and it’s part of the composition of your photo.

Negative space can create balance in your image or make sense of tension by placing the subject off-center.

Negative space is an integral part of the composition, which many photographers neglect or overlook.

An Egret stands in the shallow water creating a reflection. Using negative space in your images can make them more attractive, dynamic, and balanced. Photo by Crowpix Media.
An Egret stands in the shallow water creating a reflection. Using negative space in your images can make them more attractive, dynamic, and balanced. Photo by Crowpix Media.

Using negative space in your images can make them more attractive, dynamic, and balanced.

There are many ways to use negative space in photography and this article will cover some of the most common uses.

Negative Space And Composition Basics

Negative space is a photography term referring to the space around an object that’s not occupied by the subject.

In other words, it’s the empty parts of an image.

It can be used for many purposes in photography, but here are a couple ways you can make use of negative space when considering your composition:

Try placing that subject against the backdrop so that it stands out from what's behind it or in front of it. Photo by Crowpix Media.
Try placing that subject against the backdrop so that it stands out from what’s behind it or in front of it. The rock in the center frame is the subject surrounded by negative space. Photo by Crowpix Media.
  • To accentuate your subject: If you have a colorful background or foreground with a plain-looking subject (i.e., no color), try placing that subject against the backdrop so that it stands out from what’s behind it or in front of it. This will help bring attention to your primary focus and draw viewers into your photo more quickly because there won’t be any distractions for them to look at other than what you want them to look at most.
  • Negative space can create interest or depth: In landscapes or portrait compositions, especially when not much is happening in the frame.

How to Use Negative Space

You can use negative space in your photos to:

Negative space can create a unique perspective on your image. Photo by Crowpix Media.
Negative space can create a unique perspective on your image. Photo by Crowpix Media.
  • Frame your subject: Including negative space around an object or person creates a frame around them and draws the viewer’s eye directly to them.
  • Give scale: If you want to convey how big something is, include both the object itself and some surrounding objects that are larger than it (or smaller). The contrast between those two elements will give perspective on how big this thing really is.
  • Emphasize focus: Negative space can be used as a complementary element when balancing focus between two subjects within the same photo. However, if one subject is more extensive than another in real life, they’ll likely appear more prominent in their respective frames regardless of what else surrounds them. Keep this fact in mind when deciding where exactly you want attention drawn before using any framing technique like this.
  • Use negative space to create a sense of depth or perspective: This can be done by placing the subject against an intense background color and allowing the rest of the shot to fade into blackness. If you have any objects around your subject, try moving them closer or farther away from their position until they blend into one another seamlessly. The result will be an image with two distinct planes, one foreground, and one background, both equally important and equally significant in conveying meaning through composition.
  • Use negative space to create a sense of mystery in a photo: By leaving plenty open around your subject but including enough details that viewers can tell what they’re looking at (or who’s looking back). Make sure there aren’t any faces present at all. Instead of showing us exactly who we should look at when viewing this scene through our lens, let us fill in those blanks ourselves based on our own experiences as observers; after all, it’s not always necessary for us as photographers (or artists).

Using Minimalism in Your Photography

Minimalism is the opposite of clutter. It means that the photo’s foreground and background are clear of distractions.

The photo below demonstrates a minimalist compositional approach that utilises uncluttered negative spaces.

The negative spaces are the desert sand areas of the photo around the subject (which are the two Camels traversing the desert in this image).

Try minimalist composition that uses negative space. Photo by Crowpix Media.
Try minimalist composition that uses negative space. Photo by Crowpix Media.

It’s about creating space in your photos by removing unnecessary elements from the frame and leaving only what matters most.

Minimalism can be used in any style of photography – from street to landscape, portrait to fine art, abstract or documentary.

How to Use Colour in Your Photos

Color is an essential element of photography.

You can use it to draw attention to your subject, set the mood of your image, and create contrast and balance.

But you don’t want to overdo it and confuse your viewers with too many colors. Here’s a quick guide on how you can use color in your photos:

Use colour to create a mood that compliments or opposes the subject from the negative space. Photo by Crowpix Media.
Use colour to create a mood that cimpliments or opposes the subject from the negative space. Photo by Crowpix Media.
  • Use color to draw attention: If you want something in the picture, like an animal’s face or an item that has importance, then make sure it stands out by using contrasting colors behind them, such as green grass behind an animal’s head or blue sky behind their body. This makes them pop out from the rest of the picture, so they stand out more than if they were surrounded by gray tones instead.
  • Use color to create a mood: A lot depends on what kind of emotion you want people to feel when looking at your images. For example, if we were photographing wildlife then we should consider the natural ambient colours and how these can help portray the mood of the image. It takes practice, so don’t worry if this doesn’t work right away.

In Conclusion

Negative space is an essential tool in the photographer’s arsenal.

It helps create a sense of balance and harmony and can also add impact to your photos by creating a negative space that draws the viewer’s eye toward what you want them to see.

The most important thing to remember about negative space is that it’s not just about avoiding objects—it’s about creating an emotional experience for the viewer through careful placement of colors, shapes, and lighting.

By understanding how negative space works and using it in your photographs, you can create compelling images with minimal effort.

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