Dutch artist Berndnaut Smilde has created a new project in which he takes an element from the natural outside world and introduces it to the artificial inside world. His subject: the cloud. Smilde is interested in capturing the temporary form of the cloud outside of its natural context to exaggerate its being:
“I’m really interested in work that exists in between reality and representation in a way that it doesn’t really function in the end. So as for the clouds their just there, they’re building up but at the same time they’re falling apart.”
Though his cloud making may be something new, pairing subjects with uncommon backgrounds is not. The juxtaposition between the two can emphasize the subject, background, or both. These contrasting subject/background scenes can come in many forms. Here are a few:
- Color and Black & White – Whether it’s a colored subject against a B&W background, or simply one color against another color, different shades, hues, and saturations can set your subject and background apart. The color wheel is often used in art photography for this purpose. Complementary, supplementary, and triadic color schemes can be a useful tool in creating an image.
- Smooth and Textured – Placing these opposites against each other can set them apart dynamically. This is often used in portraiture when a photographer will place their subject against a solid colored background or very textured background, such as a barn with paint peeling off.
- Busy and Empty – Perhaps for this one it would be easier to say negative space. To accentuate a subject, photographers will often surround that subject with a great deal of negative space. Negative space can be a clear blue sky, a solid white wall, or anything that’s mostly plain and homogeneous. Since there’s nothing much to look at in the negative space, the viewer focuses on the subject.
- Light and Dark – This is another one that’s used a lot. Bright objects will attract the viewer’s attention first while dark objects will often be glanced over or looked at later. Even if the subject is prominent in the photo, if there is a bright spot in the background, it will distract from the main subject.
Like This Article?
Don't Miss The Next One!
Join over 100,000 photographers of all experience levels who receive our free photography tips and articles to stay current: