Negative Space vs Wasted Space

What are the differences?

Us as the photographic facilitators on a safari do not only constantly remind our guests of their camera settings but of the composition/framing and one thing I often say is remember your “negative space”.

Negative space is the space that you as photographer should leave in front your subject if it to look/move into as seen below;

As you would of seen, the lion had adequate space to move/walk into (negative space) in the foreground.
I have used the very same image but just cropped in a bit differently to show you what wasted space is (image on the left) & what over doing negative space is (image on the right);

Wasted space is therefore adding too much into the frame which is adding no value to the image & paves the way for your viewers eye to bounce around for no reason as seen above the lion on the left.

Over doing negative space is by cutting off the frame too close to the subject as see in the lion image on the right.

I have added 3 more images below for you to decide which is the perfectly composed image, you can leave your answer in the comments below;




















We always say it is best to do as much as you possibly can while out in the field to minimize your work while post processing but it is not always possible in the heat of the moment. Fortunately, we can crop to aid our composition a bit later if we do not get it spot on in the field as seen below;

Please do keep in mind that cropping an image does result in it loosing quality… In saying this, it definitely is necessary at times & you will notice the rule of thirds grid, which is the default crop format in Lightroom, is seen in the image above. The red X’s I added to point out the so called “power points” which, if you can make use of at least one of these points will add tremendous value to your image.

As I mentioned it is best to try & do as much as you can while out in the field including what I just mentioned above. How can I keep my subject in the right place in frame while keeping the rule or thirds/the power points in mind as well you ask?

Move your focus points!

Practice it daily and best get used to it because once you are at ease with moving your focal point you will notice a dramatic difference in you photography. It is best to keep this point as close to the animals eye as possible as indicated with a red X below;

This is not always possible but best to do so as much as possible because the sharpest part of your image will be where your focal point was activated. Also keep in mind that when you move closer to your subject or your subject moves closer to you, your focal point will have to be moved in order to keep a good composition &/or to eliminate cutting off your subjects limbs. In the case below I had to move my focal points from the far left to the far right of my frame;

I know it can get quite frustrating when having to move your focal points all the way across the frame in the heat of the moment, but it is a must in order to bank a good image. If, for those of you who own one of the more recent DSLR cameras, there is a “new” which will make life easier for you when it comes to moving your focal point around quicker.

For the Nikon shooters this function is called Focus Point Wrap Around, TURN IT ON!

& for the Canon Shooters, your auto focus point selection pattern should be set on continuous;

With these functions activated you will no longer have to toggle your focal point from the furtherest left point to the right as it will allow you to just toggle left once and your focal point will automatically be on the far right of your frame. This will definitely speed the process up but will take some getting used to and in saying this, the blog is a wrap and you can not pick up your camera, set it up and get to some practicing.

Until next time;

Happy Snapping


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