Posts Tagged ‘focal plane’

San Francisco Art Institute Photography History 14

February 16th, 2012

Space Analysis Lecture By Minor White

Philip Hyde’s 1947 Class Notes

California School Of Fine Arts, Now The San Francisco Art Institute

Photography Program Founded By Ansel Adams, Minor White Lead Instructor

(Continued from the blog post, “San Francisco Art Institute Photography History 13.”)

(View the photograph large: “Ship ‘China Victory,’ Fishing Boats, San Francisco Waterfront.”)

Ship “China Victory” And Fishing Boats, San Francisco Waterfront, San Francisco Bay, California, copyright 1948 by Philip Hyde. The fishing boat hulls on the left are an example of planes parallel to the focal plane.

Landscape Photography Blogger Note:

Perhaps one of the most renowned, yet mysterious concepts that Minor White taught was Space Analysis. Few of Minor White’s students gave any indication that they understood the idea completely. Interviews with Philip Hyde, William Heick, Ben Chinn, Stan Zrnich, David Johnson and others bear this out. Little has been written or described anywhere regarding the definition of Minor White’s Space Analysis. Now, here, published for the first time ever are Philip Hyde’s class notes from August 1947 covering Minor White’s lecture on Space Analysis.

Space Analysis Lecture By Minor White

August 26, 1947

Philip Hyde’s Class Notes


  • Composition in the Graphic Arts consists of organization and construction; as contrasted with photography. Composition in photography consists of analysis and organization of existing elements.
  • In photography, the frame of the viewfinder or ground glass isolates or selects elements desired.
  • Closeness –> Restraint;  Distance –> Freedom
  • Implication of horizontal plane (as viewed from above) from Vertical Plane is part of Space Analysis. Arises from conventions, knowledge and due to the third dimensional effect inherent in a photograph.

The subject can dictate the organization of the rest of the photograph and the rest of the photograph should conform to the subject.

Space-Depth Concept

  1. Planes (or a plane) which are parallel to the focal plane
    1. Perhaps the simplest type of subject is one single plane photographed. For example: a wall.
    2. Parallel planes in depth—a series of objects without an intervening horizontal plane. For example: a series of stage sets. Sometimes called banding.
    3. Horizontal plane with lines of demarcation. For example: waves on the ocean photographed from a high cliff.
    4. Vertical lines open the space up a little more. For example: a series of planes in depth with vertical edges.
  2. Planes at an angle to the focal plane.
    1. Diagonal or Receding Planes. For example: a road going away from the camera.

Negative Space

The space between objects or around objects has existence and weight. This volume or space is exceptionally important in photography, as is the control of this space, as effected by the tone of respective objects, lighting of objects and placement of the horizontal plane—in tonal values. For example: Screens are placed near each other; the space between may be expanded or contracted by the control above.

(Continued in the blog post, “San Francisco Art Institute Photography History 15.”)