As mentioned last week, I’ve been re-examining my photography in terms of some ideas from Japanese aesthetics. In practical terms, that means I’ve been going out and looking differently at subjects. For example, I’ve tried to be more aware of views involving negative space along Sourdough Trail, my main project of the moment.


One might assume it would be easy to capture huge numbers of images with, say, plenty of sky as negative space. To my surprise, I’ve found it rather difficult to come up with such views, if they’re to be more than forced snapshots. On the other hand, I have no objection to playing with images on a computer. So it occurred to me that I could accelerate building new intuitions about negative space by making my own. Whether or not nature can be improved upon, the ability to compare related images with certain differences is nicely complementary to seeking out diverse examples.


The above image is derived from the first one by removing two groups of foliage. I like the spare lightness of it and the suggestion of a conversation when there are two main elements.

In the next case, I lighten out almost half of the image to get a very asymmetrical composition.


I feel that I’ve gained some insight into the compositional possibilities and into my own predilections through just a quick bit of image play. Does it seem like cheating? I think of it as similar to the useful composition exercise McFawn suggested recently. At any rate, it’s no matter, that wasn’t the real test. Next is to go back out there, hopefully with eyes to find expressive pictures in their native surroundings, framing them to enhance their liveliness.