Embracing the Negative



Accidents happen. Sometimes they are happy accidents, where the results provide that “omigosh – will you look at that!” response.  This image is a lucky fluke.

It was New Year’s Eve. The day was cold, damp and gray. I decided to investigate a new walking trail at the local park. I followed the path, surrounded on both sides by a chaotic tangle of brush and brambles. Nature’s palette was composed of myriad shades of dull brown and gray. Everything slumbered; frozen in winter hibernation. The sun remained hidden behind pale gray skies.

For some reason, I looked up. And was struck by the lacy pattern of delicate branches and leaves against the gunmetal sky. I snapped several shots.

As I performed my normal edits in Photoshop, I decided to convert the image to black and white. Applying a gradient map adjustment, the image was transformed into white branches against a midnight black sky – a negative of the original. (I failed to notice that my default colors were reversed from the normal setting.)

The thing is – I loved this negative version. To me, it was so much more striking and powerful, white against black. Turned inside out to its opposite. Finished off with an application of Kim’s latest texture, “Embrace” and the results are the image above.

There is a lesson here – about playing, experimenting, embracing the negative. Of turning a gray day into something more.

Texture Tuesday Processing 

The layers palette and original image are below.

  • Add a levels adjustment to increase contrast
  • Add a gradient map adjustment to convert the image to reverse black and white
  • Add the Embrace texture, transforming and rotating to fit. Desaturate to grayscale. Set blend mode to Vivid Light, opacity to 35%

Jan-10-Layers Jan-10-Before











Linking with Kim Klassen’s Texture Tuesday


Posted on January 10, 2012, in Photoshop and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. 15 Comments.

  1. Love this, the negative image is beautiful and works really well with the texture. It has a kind of magical quality.

  2. Grasshopper says…..wow-wee. Fantastci image and negative with negative space AND a texture. You’ve outdone yourself.
    I have no idea how to use gradiants and even what I’d want to use them for or why to use them. I might try your pattern on an image and see what happens.
    Happy day Brenda.

  3. I love what you did with this image, I’m often drawn to the negatives which provide a playful or striking take on often an otherwise ordinary image. Love it.

  4. You’re right, the negative image is much more compelling than the original. I love to take photos of twigs and branches against the sky. I’m going to have to try this! (Minus the texture – I don’t have a clue about those.)

  5. Love those happy accidents. Fantastic image! And I think kim’s texture works particularly well on b&w.

  6. How beautiful! It looks like an etching…what a lovely accident you happened upon!

  7. Striking image!! Beautiful photo and beautifully processed!

  8. Gorgeous! And so winter in feel. Winter is B&W and negative, void of color in most places, and you have captured it perfectly in your image and processing. Love it!

  9. Wow! This is wonderful! — what a lucky accident! I guess sometimes we do need to embrace the negative..

  10. Yes, i agree the white on black is stunning!

  11. Exquisite!! Yes – so many treasures to be found when we allow ourselves the gift of play!

  12. that’s a lovely photograph. a little mistake can sometimes be a great thing. the texture has come out really well too!

  13. I agree with Becs — this is magical, both the photo and the lesson that you draw from it.

  14. True art in playing. Thanks for sharing your process and I, too, love the final image. In my workshops, I emphasize taking the labels off of things, that there are infinite ways of seeing things. You seem to do that with exercises like this. Even though we don’t see “the negative” when we’re out photographing, it’s still there.

  15. Your enhanced photo is so dramatically different from the original. The changes you made turned an ordinary shot into something extraordinary, and I love that you managed to pull a lesson from it too. I’m guessing there are some parallels in that lesson with your journey from the business world to a fully engaged retirement. Very cool!

I greatly appreciate your comments!

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