Often times you are presented with a subject that has no discerning background or with a landscape that has a clear division between two parts. Understanding the relationship your subject has with the  negative spaces and applying a clear use of dominance can mean the difference between your pictures looking okay and looking outstanding.

Figure Ground:

After adjusting the image with some curves in photoshop to completely whiten the background, I cropped in a little closer to provide interesting shapes  in the negative space. This also gave the rock dominance by allowing it to occupy more space than the background.


With two main sections in this image, I had to decide between the two which would dominate. Visually it made more sense to allow the dark water to rule. The flow of the composition moves from left to right smoother and it also places my bird in a pleasing space.


It seems to me that shooting photography down a shoreline always presents opportunity for dominance choices. Should I let the land dominate, or the water? The answer isn’t always clear and many times, both options work. Here, I chose the land. This is a case when both would have worked with a little moving around on my part.


Now, go forth and conquer your next photography quest! As always, feel free to comment, ask questions, or request a subject for a post.

Happy Shooting!

Shawn Pagels