Friday, September 27, 2013

Shadows and Why I Like Them

One of the best photography classes I ever took was not a photography class.  It was a graphic design class taken at RIT as part of my Pro Photo curriculum around 1980.  There I was introduced to the concept of positive and negative space and the importance of balancing the two for visual harmony.  Our exercise was to create forms on a 3x5" white board, incorporating all or a portion of a square, a triangle, and a circle. Below is an example of one of my efforts.   Positive space loosely defined is the subject or main picture elements.  Negative space is essentially the unused part of the frame.

Since then, I have found strong shadows can sometimes be used to help control the negative space of my images.  Here are a few examples from old as well as new photographs.

I love the design created by the shadows in this picture of Chris;  the "angel's wing" and the strong diagonals that divide the frame.

I like the shapes of each of the picture elements; the silhouetted people, the wet sidewalk, the bench,  the clouds, but without the negative space (i.e. the black foreground), I don't think this picture would work.

Simple is often best and the large negative space helps accentuate the shape of this tiny leaf.

Simple picture elements, Stacey's face and a sign at the bowling alley, accentuated by the deep shadows and dark blue sky of dusk.

The subject is very small in this picture but the negative space adds the drama.

Love the shadow of Rick's hat and how his body disappears into shadow.

A composite from two separate pictures.  Love the negative space created.

There is kind of a 50/50 split between the positive and negative space in this picture of California girls posing their shadows against a white wall at sunset.

I like the interesting shadows contrasted against the backlit cuteness of our great niece.

I guess I'd view the sunset and water as the negative space in this picture, but it's the shape of the fishermen and peninsula in total silhouette that provide the visual harmony.

An image from a "film noir" shoot.