Seizing Possibilities

Seizing Possibilities
Seizing Possibilities

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Space how much are you giving your vision?

In the quest of trying to keep focused on your photography or art and what you want it to emanate; think about these photographs and let yourself feel…
Sydney, Australia

Sydney, Australia

What is the difference of the evocative mood or feeling you get from these two different perspectives created by moving the horizon line?

What about the distant versus the more close-up photograph? What is the difference in feeling they create within you?  How do they make you feel?  How does that fit with what you want to evoke in your work?

Sydney, Australia

Sydney, Australia
Consider the role that space may have in your photography.  Think positive and negative space, think dimensional space and what that means in creating your evocative images.  What I want to do is continue to provoke you to think consciously about how the photographs or drawings or paintings you create convey your own perceptions of your world and do they fulfill what you are trying to do in your work.  

Space is essential when considering composition.  What isn’t there is just as important as what is there.  There is both positive and negative space in any confined frame.    And how you handle “space” determines if what you are producing is more two-dimensional or three-dimensional in the perception of the viewer.

Perhaps the easiest aspect of space to grasp is that of positive and negative space.  It comes into play when you consider balance as well as composition.  Think about those illusions where you perhaps have two people face to face.  In one person’s view they see the positive space of two people while someone else reads the negative space and sees the goblet.  In portraiture generally the positive space would be the person in the photograph while the negative space is the rest of the photograph.  The amount of space you give to each will produce a different feel to the photograph.  

Wetherby Station, Australia

Kula Eco Park, Fiji

Consider the freedom the distant Opera House has with the larger negative space around it and how it makes you feel with the wide open space, then consider the confines of the photograph with it filling the frame.  The purposes and intent is very different in each case, so is the feeling it conveys.   Neither is right or wrong but it fully has to do with what you want to say and convey in your work, how you feel and what you want to project to others.

Overlapping, perspective, focus and blur, size, value or a hue change will all help someone perceive your work as having more dimensions.   In works with true dimension there is a foreground, middle ground and a background and they will all be treated differently and appear to have different qualities of the given illusions.

Auckland, New Zealand

An overlapping of objects creates the illusion of space and dimension particularly when the foreground object is brighter, clearer, has more detail and is larger.  This will create a foreground space that is unmistakable, alone the dimensional space only exists as a pattern but when overlapped or combined with objects in a middle ground slightly reduced in all of those aspects will help to create a more two-dimensional space, when combined with a background that is blurry, reduced in hue or color and indistinct will add a third dimension to your work.  Shadows or shading will also give the illusion of dimension to objects so be conscious of this.  To totally remove shadows say in portraiture creates a flatness that may not be exactly what you want to convey in your work unless of course that is your particular style.  Just as vice versa, if you increase the contrast in your photographs it helps to create greater dimension.  Although in photography if you do this you can create “halos” around objects and therefore create more of a pattern than a perception of depth.

Darling Harbour, Sydney, AU

Space might include pattern to help create a certain perspective or perception of your work.  Pattern or repeats can create an interesting photograph but will keep it very two dimensional in nature, more of a design element than artistic element unless some of the other aspects of three-dimensional space are included in your photograph.  Notice the marked difference in these two leaf photographs in terms of dimension of space.

Great Smoky Mtn National Park, TN, USA

Biltmore Estate, Asheville, NC, USA

Morecambe, England, GB
The perception of space can also be achieved through size.  Those objects closer to you are larger while the ones that are at a greater depth will be smaller creating the illusion of perspective and space and dimension.

Lancaster, England, GB

There is also a linear perspective that will help to create a sense of three-dimensional space.  A good example of this is a path or road that seems to disappear in the distance and gets smaller as it recedes.  Buildings will also have this same linear perspective as will picnic tables!

Hue or value is also a tool to help create the depth you may seek in your work.  As colors recede they decrease in hue and become a bit more subdued in saturation of color.  Colors will appear brighter and more clear and as they recede into the middle and background spaces the intensity will also diminish.  It is a good realization to have because you can create that “pop” of color that can create drama in a photograph when this concept is adjusted.  If you are working strictly in black and white, value becomes your friend in the creation of depth and dimension.  Whites will draw your eye and blacks and grays will create the depth.  See my earlier post on value as an element of art here.

Kadena, Okinawa, Japan

Indianapolis, IN, USA

The combination of several of these tools to create a three-dimensional space can create what is called atmospheric space.  This is simply what we know to be true particularly in landscape work where the atmosphere in a photograph or drawing, where objects in the distance become blurred, less detailed, become bluish or gray in color or the shading of a hue to reduce color intensity creating atmospheric conditions and the illusion of greater three-dimensional space.

Dandridge, TN, USA

Christchurch, New Zealand

Christchurch, New Zealand

This week think about space in terms of your vision and intent.  How does it make you feel?  How can you use it to evoke a sense of your view of the world?  What way can it best be used to create your evocative images?


  1. I <3 your blog!! :D I have to head away from computerland for a bit but I'm so coming back here :D Wow! Thank you for writing/sharing your thoughts/skills/knowledge/wonder! :D :D

    Jordan aka The Maplemusketeer :)

  2. Thank you Jordan! I hope this helps you gain a lot of insight into your own work! :)

  3. Definitely :D After reading this I've gone back and looked at my most recent post to ponder with this in mind :) It's interesting knowing more of the mechanics/theory/underpinnings. It reminds me of teaching archery. I can teach all the basics of form etc. And those are important and good to know. But when the students would ask me how I aimed? They had a hard time believing when I said I would get it to where it felt right.. where it "should be", and letting it fly true. The balance of understanding and intuition (mystery) is a wonder to me :D

  4. I think you've got it! I couldn't agree more. There is a place for understanding the underpinnings of something, after all it gives you a foundation to build on and consider, but it is that intuitive act intrinsic within us that will produce magic! I live for those AHA moments when things just seem to come together.