West Virginia South April - May 2019 - Page 32

Spring Vetch Lady's Slippers 32 ❖ SOUTH ❖ APRIL-MAY '19 Use Negative Space The area between and around the subject, called negative space, is a pow- erful tool photographers use to express mood in wildflower images. Although it seems counterintuitive to leave large areas of an image “blank,” so to speak, doing so can produce amazing results. For example, a lone spring vetch sits by itself on a stem and stretches out into a large void to its left. Rather than detract from the flower, the negative space puts greater emphasis on it. In other words, it more clearly stands out as the focal element. In addition, the negative space can assume meaning of its own, and invites the viewer to discover that meaning. The pink, heart- shaped, wildflower seems to be reaching out, yearning for something lost. Include Context Authentic wildflower photography can only take place in the wild. Capturing where wildflowers live, or their context, is crucial to expressing the life of the flowers. Let me give an example. Words fail to describe how special to me is the stand of showy lady’s slippers. This stand is the largest sustainable growth of this orchid south of the Great Lakes. It is protected by deer fencing, and its location is closely guarded by wildflower lovers. My wife and I labored in vain for hours bushwhacking through heavy brush and climbing over felled trees trying to locate this patch of flowers, and when our search was finally rewarded, our spirits soared. Since there were more than 100 blooms, we felt both joy and reverence at behold- ing such a rare sight. To truly express the exuberant and manifold beauty of this wildflower stand, I had to capture both the exquisite beauty of a single bloom as well as the collective inspiration of an entire patch. So I put the lead flower in focus and let out-of-focus blossoms in the back- ground suggest the larger context of the whole stand.