Table of Contents – Archive

If you want to read this blog in the sequence it was written start at the top of the Table of Contents. Occasional “asides” are included as sub-headings under the “chapters”. This is to handle the awkward way the blog tools sequences page publishing.

Composition and the Photographer



Understanding Visual Perception through Gestalt



Figure and Ground

Selection and Boundary


Aside: Image Mapping


Proximity, Similarity and Closure

Continuity and Prägnanz

Elements of Design


Shape and Form


Value and Texture

Color I – Models

Color II – Harmonies

Color III – Contrasts – Part 1

6 comments on “Table of Contents – Archive

  1. shazimalik says:

    Hello guy!.i hope you are fine.
    i have one question on space. what is the true definition of a negative space. does it mean the blank space only. ( i wish i could explain it with example of image) like a baloon floating in sky, where featureless sky is a negative space
    i took an image of a leaf against a wall rich in rough texutre. does the wall would constitute a negative space. the wall had no other feature but someone pointed out that negative space is just a blank space, so wall with its own texture was not a negative space
    i see that in your example, the trees were labelled as positive space, the rest is negative (which includes mountains as well)

    • Positive and negative space are alternate terms for figure and ground. In the figure/ground discussion I mention,”Figure and ground have a direct correlation with signal to noise, and positive and negative spaces. They are simply terms sharing a similar definition within different disciplines.”

      In the balloon and sky example the balloon would likely be positive with the sky being negative space. It is not always that simple though. If that same shot were cropped tight into the balloon and the balloon were black, it may become the negative space because black would recede and the blue come forward.

      Look at the Imogene Cunningham image, Leaf Pattern, on . The brightest areas are a sunlit wall behind the plant. The darkest are shadows of leaves on leaves. The midtones are leaves in sunlight.

      A realistic reading would tell us the bright areas are ground (negative) because they are in the background and not the object being presented. But here they become positive space (figure) if we rest our eyes on them. Now rest the eyes on the darker areas, what do you now perceive as positive?. The rolls reverse, and the dark areas become positive. This works because she was trying for that affect and was playing with positive/negative (figure/ground) when she took the image.

  2. Professor Aamir Shahzad says:

    Guy, I think i should rephrase my question. probably i was not clear.
    i have understood the concept of figure=ground. if you look at my picture of a single leaf against a roughly textured wall, as in the following link to my websit
    I think the leaf is the positive space and the wall is negative.
    but one of my friend insists that by definition, a negative space has to be blank featureless. in this picture, wall being rich in color and texture can’t be described as a negative space.
    this is what is confusing me

    • The image I think you refer to is a single green leave against a highly textured wall (2 variations). Remember, not all elements will appear in all photographs. This is probably one of those exceptions.

      The wall is a dominant portion of the image, the leaf is necessary but at times secondary to the shot. What is the subject, the wall or the leaf? They balance each other because of the contrast in size, and textures, but I don’t think there is an obvious positive/negative space here.

      Look at it as just tones… at times the leaf, being dark, begins to recede into the wall. that would make the leaf negative, but it is difficult to resolve that way. It takes effort and is not readily apparent.

      It is almost that the wall is too interesting, it is not just a plane in space. There is an undulating diagonal line running lower-left to med right, it cuts behind the leaf and when it continues we see a different tone and texture. This draws the eye away from the body of the leaf to its tip, which happens to be the point of highest dark to light contrast along with the form at the lower left corner. These two points play off each other keeping the eye moving around the image.

      Don’t show variations of the same shot in a portfolio, commit to one or the other.

    • …and no, negative space does not have to be blank or black. That may be the approach of a graphic designer, but doesn’t hold up across the board. I think your book by Zakia covers it.

  3. shazimalik says:

    Thank you Guy, you are a source of inspiration and guidance. i have understood the point. As recommended by you i am reading Richard Zakia and that is why i was confused by some one’s comment
    i have deleted one version of the picture as recommended by you.
    Waiting for the next post
    with regard and God bless you

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