Images of Nature - Instruction - Workshops

Views of Nature Photography

The image above shows a lot of dead space, the dead grass is a large expanse of what can be considered dead or empty space in that it really adds nothing to the image. The horizon line is close to midway in the image with the entire lower half adding little to the image (thus taking something away). In some cases, a simple crop can remove the dead space. The cropped image reduces the dead grass to the point it provides some depth to the image without creating dead space.


After reading this short essay, go through some of your images (landscapes are good candidates) and do a self critique regarding negative space vs. dead space.

Then see what you can do to improve them either by using cropping or clone tools.

Then go out and make more images, even around your backyard or local park to utilize negative space to enhance your composition.

All photographs on this site are copyrighted by the photographers and carry liability if copied, downloaded, reproduced or manipulated in any way without prior consent.


Negative Space

Negative space can add mood or a sense of conditions to a composition. 

In the some critique sessions of student images, we have talked a lot about negative space. Let's delve into what is the difference between empty or dead space, and what is negative space. They have a different definition when it comes to image composition. Negative space is the area around or adjacent to your main element. Negative space can define mood, maybe a sense of place or conditions, or an element that will enhance or even compete with your main element for some compositional tension.  Now let’s consider empty or dead space. Empty or dead space is that part of an image with nothing to add to the composition. Remember the cardinal rule of composition that anything that does not add to an image takes away from it.

This image has a dark, cloudy sky to show conditions. There are no specific parts of the sky that can be considered individual elements but when taken as a whole, the sky says thunderstorm. This gives the image a more dramatic mood.

What can you do to create negative space when your composition includes empty or dead space? Think about the following tools we use all the time and how they can help.

1) Depth of field: We can reduce depth of field to significantly blur a background, thus creating negative space from dead space.

2) Consider a secondary point of interest, perhaps something in the background that can be slightly blurred but will provide something for the eye to catch but not hold attention.

3) Use shutter speed to soften an empty space that is in motion, think waves or a flowing stream.