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Photography Composition :: Simplification and Negative Space

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http://theartofphotography.tv http://twitter.com/tedforbes http://pinterest.com/tedforbes In this video we will talk about 2 concepts for visual composition, simplification and negative space. Simplification is the reduction of elements in the composition to only what is necessary for the picture. Its a concept very difficult for photographers for a number of reasons. If you are creating the art - in other words, you are drawing or painting, its more natural not to add things to the composition that aren't important. But as photographers - particularly if you're not in a studio, we don't have the ability often to physically remove objects from what we are photographing. This means sometimes you have to reconsider your angle, point of view or any number of changes to the way you're shooting that will interrupt your normal process. This can be quite difficult. For example, if you're shooting a landscape and there is a street light in the frame, the light might be more distracting to the composition than needed. This is an obvious example, but say you're doing architectural work. Are there chairs in the composition? Do they need to be there? Is their placement complementing what you are trying to say with the image? Simplification is pairing down subjects to only the essential. Its worth noting that this sounds like minimalism. While reducing elements is a big part of minimalism, it doesn't imply that your photograph is minimalist. On the base level, it simply means that everything in the composition is there to serve a purpose and no element is distracting. The second technique we'll cover in this video is "negative space". Negative space is simply areas of low texture or activity that contrast the subject and allow it to "breathe". This is very natural to how we exist as humans. Being in a situation that's too crowded can make us feel stifled or claustrophobic. Images are similar. We create interest by allowing things room. This also creates impact and gives importance to subjects that contrast this negative space. Negative space can be simple backgrounds, skies, flat colors, black, white, etc. These techniques are quite simple, but they are both surprisingly difficult to get a handle on - particularly for photographers.
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Text Comments (92)
Jade Forest (20 days ago)
Dear Ted F, I am back again and learning more, could not sleep, because I want to hear your lecture again today, loving all the lessons! I m not on the street tonight :-) Merci a lot... see you tomorrow!
mavishill (1 month ago)
Dynamism * lol. Great channel. This is opposite of all social media trends and likes of Peter McKinon and prism photos. This is real classic photography with more solid picture.
Ryan H (2 months ago)
I loveeeeeeeeee your channel Ted. Your videos have, and will continue to stand, the test of time. While I have been familiar with your newest videos for some time now, only recently have I discovered the rich treasure trove of your older work. Brilliant lessons, thanks and blessings from London.
A Shawes (6 months ago)
I enjoy all your videos ,,, great channel.
Cameron Rossely (6 months ago)
hmmm, just happened upon this video and your other one about the rule of odds today.there are a great many videos on YT to show me how to master HDR, or this or that technique in Lightroom, and yes, they've helped me grow my _technical_ proficiency, but this stuff, about composition... wow. This is a seminal moment for me, because you've shed a very bright light on what I find to be a dark art, which is, how to 'see' a shot. For a long time I've assumed the 'eye' for composition was a gift people either just had, or they didn't, and something that couldn't be taught. But what you've given us here goes way, way beyond the usual "rule of thirds", "have something in the foreground" type generic advice on composition you find in every photography text. And the way you've explained, in a clear and demystifying way, the concepts behind the art, I found it *incredibly* helpful and gives me tools to reflect on, and begin to understand, why so many of my shots haven't worked, and why some have.  And of course, what I will be doing in future, to improve.thank you very, very much.
Julian Cabrera (7 months ago)
Love, love your videos. I am understanding composition and your videos has brought me a lot of light! thanks!
AUC Hardal (7 months ago)
Thank you, I am learning much from you.
Shahed Kojak (8 months ago)
Another term is the"figure-ground" relationship . Thanks
audiofiles appreciates this gorgeous audio, awesome job!
Eri (8 months ago)
Knowing your stuff is one thing, but being able to communicate it to others is what separates the real great teachers. Thank you Ted, for all your great videos on so many subjects. You are very inspirational to me!
cloudstepper11 (9 months ago)
Just recently became much more interested in photography, purchased some adequate gear, and started doing some learning. Imagine my surprise when I found that a lot of photographers are trying to learn what I've been doing most of my life, which is composing drawings and paintings. There are some great art books that are available for composition studies, such as anything about the old masters (Leonardo, Michelangelo, Rembrandt, etc.), and a little book by Molly Bang called "How Pictures Work." Also, anything by Steve Huston (his book or his video lessons....be careful! You may become so excited that you spend more time drawing and painting than taking photos. He's THAT good.) Also, watching Feng Zhu paint on his YouTube channel demonstrates a lot of great rules of composition. Really enjoying the channel, Mr. Forbes. Have a great day.
EE DESIGN (10 months ago)
This i not hard or work for me, it is what I do I ocd with removing clutter from images. I yake everything i can out of the composition but when not possible I can spend 6 hours in photoshop / image.
bigDAY seitiso (1 year ago)
thank you, helpful and informative tutorials....
Kyle592 (1 year ago)
Can you bring back videos like this please? I loved the theory and artist videos from the early days.
Fire Escape Griller (1 year ago)
Thank you, Ted. The Stravinsky cropping at the end is so cool.
Rotbart1337 (1 year ago)
What is the "goal" of photography. What do I want to achieve when I put my finger on the trigger?
cattalkbmx (1 year ago)
Hey it's Ted Forbes!
I dig what your saying about outside photography can be unreliable compared to a studio which the light source is more reliable
Vinay Seth (1 year ago)
11:234- Wow! I literally couldn't make out it was anything beyond a plant till you pointed it out! I wonder whether this was Man Ray's deliberate spin on the famous vases-faces illusion.
Duphe (1 year ago)
Ver nice channel, thank you a lot :)
Simon Moeller (1 year ago)
negative space
kasra k (1 year ago)
Thank you for this :)
Joseph Jagatic (1 year ago)
Got me thinking.
ponybottle (1 year ago)
'Dynamism' :-)
B H (1 year ago)
This is great, very enjoyable and educational. thank you.
no hassle (1 year ago)
George Lucas used to be a minimalist until the prequel trilogy came along.
Laura Captain (1 year ago)
Hi Ted. Interesting video, enjoyed it. Thanks for showing those photographer's cool photos as examples.
kathrin (1 year ago)
I just came across your channel today and I absolutely LOVE it. You have amazing content. These are exactly the kind of things I want to learn about. And you're also good at explaining.
WillyKano (1 year ago)
Apart from the reflection of the light source(s) on your glasses (just put the lighting a little bit higher), it's great stuff about negative space, more of that, please!
Joaquín Terrasa (1 year ago)
Really great video! Very amazed with the simplicity you get to explain abstract concepts.
Law Ng (1 year ago)
wow Ted ex t...
Jake Szetela (1 year ago)
The minimalist images were ok, but technically uninteresting. Sort of the thing a HS teenager who loves art will hang as a poster. I actually love using "extra" negative space, but 5 sticks in the water on a white background just doesn't cut it for me personally.
Bf Media Tutorials (1 year ago)
Great explanation about negative space. I tend to be a minimalist/abstract photographer myself; that's what I aim for. Great lesson, helped me a lot to wrap my head around composition better.
Ayush Prasad (1 year ago)
Loved this class... :)
Soumilya De (2 years ago)
some great images there... inspiration <3
Mouktik Saha (2 years ago)
great audio!!!
itsgoode2bking (2 years ago)
Hi Ted - would it not be easier to explain if you spoke and explained while looking at an image? Rather than "we'll look at it in just a second" and 5 minutes have past?
Ray Tutaj Jr (7 months ago)
You talk too much. We know all this. Go to the image and speak little. The picture will tell us everything we want to know.
LOOSE uNIT (10 months ago)
You need you use your imagination to visualise what he’s saying which will prep you for the examples. You need this skill to create great work
dincz (1 year ago)
JayoJay (1 year ago)
itsgoode2bking I agree! I know he lost me because I'm not listening anymore I'm just scrolling through the comments
2z power (2 years ago)
key2adventure (2 years ago)
Great videos you make, love these on composition and those on analog photography especially much. Thank you very much :-)
Dublensky (2 years ago)
Thanks Ted. Inspiring. Where's my camera.....
RunbenGuo (2 years ago)
your videos are great Ted. I also make photography tutorials but from a very different perspective. So I'm learning a lot from you. Thank you. Great speaking skills also! I can't say everything in one shot. I have to edit heavily after recording :D greetings from Spain!
Vito Russi (2 years ago)
0315tc (2 years ago)
excellent topic improve my photographic field.
Molivi (2 years ago)
nice speaking
Ariel Pirangy (2 years ago)
Excellent channel. Greetings from Brasil.!
Lonnie Paulson (2 years ago)
This is very good to point out. I first came across the idea of negative space when I studied basic art in college.
Michael Dahlkvist (2 years ago)
Been watching your episodes for a while now and what makes this Channel special is that the gear and tech is not what drives the content its the art and your love of photography. Its very enjoyable to watch, thank you for efforts.
cinevit (2 years ago)
Such a great resource of photographic knowledge. Thanks for sharing it. Even I knew some of these concepts, this is really refreshing for me.
Rick Mentore (2 years ago)
This comment is late to the party however, please allow me to add; this video is most helpfully to viewers as myself who are striving self-edification. Of equal importance to the images are the names of the celebrated photographers. One can easily find follow-up exercises by researching the work of the sighted masters. Thank you.
Adrian Mulligan (2 years ago)
Hi Ted, Excellent videos.. I love them all, really opening my eyes up!
booboorhymes (2 years ago)
Hey Ted, awesome videos! I think you are one of the best out there in videoland! You enlighten and inspire many people. It's also great to have someone that is not simpy pushing more tech gear down our throats. Thanks and keep up the great work.
Dennis van Mierlo (3 years ago)
Hi Ted, Thank you for this great podcast! Very inspiring and amazing photo's you showed. With warm regards, Dennis The Netherlands
gamwpanagia (3 years ago)
10:31 Amazing photograph!
ThePurpleHarpoon (3 years ago)
5:09 Dynamism.
Matthew Davis (3 years ago)
Thought provoking. Thanks.
TS Fetzko (3 years ago)
Love it.  Thank you.
Shaun Trevino (3 years ago)
i found this episode very helpfull, thanks
Tiny Room Studio (3 years ago)
i love these photographic technique teaching episodes thank you
Frank Nazario (5 years ago)
Thank you for sharing your knowledge with us... I've learned a lot. I love negative space photography and I think that is my style. Thank you for showing me this.
Hao Min (5 years ago)
Great work!!!
SilverLightD (5 years ago)
Great absolutely great, love the information. Thanks TED feast stuff with the mini series on Composition
Rod gaynor (5 years ago)
spoonmarvs (5 years ago)
thanks for sharing your ideas...i loved this type of Photography...minimalism and negative space...
Reza Abedi (5 years ago)
I learn so much from your videos, thank you Ted!
Leanne Staples (5 years ago)
Thanks Ted. Well done.
Simon Carletti (5 years ago)
Just wanna say thanks as usual! Very informative
Suraj Bhamra (5 years ago)
this has to be the best photography channel on youtube. really great information, definitely appreciate the work you put into these videos.
Felix Ayala (5 years ago)
Greetings from sunny Puerto Rico.
Felix Ayala (5 years ago)
Great info as always. Thank you.
Earvin Quero (5 years ago)
breath dude breath
john vecchione (5 years ago)
very good video very informative keep up the good work . and thank you
The Art of Photography (5 years ago)
Thank YOU for watching!
Milad Khosseini (5 years ago)
Good to know about minimalism. Thank you for the free episodes. Youre are doing something priceless
The Art of Photography (5 years ago)
Its the same principal. Negative Space is an area of low activity that contrasts the subject.
chisler26 (5 years ago)
enjoying this series Ted. Cheers!
Ben Kotowicz (5 years ago)
Beautiful! This is the first episode that I watched. You have my interest Ted. I'll be watching more. First Class!
Acquavallo (5 years ago)
What about negative space in colour?
Anime Studio Animation (5 years ago)
Masao Yamamoto is one of my favorite minimalist photographer
Francisco Abreu (5 years ago)
Very interesting all your posts. Great work!
geonerd (5 years ago)
Superb, as usual! :)
Rich Klein (5 years ago)
Excellent ted, thank you.
Linkmat97 (5 years ago)
I love this videos and they really help ! By the way are you on a green screen ?
Eric Chooi (5 years ago)
dude thanks

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