In photography, a negative image is a total inversion of an ordinary, positive one. What was once dark becomes light and vice versa. Colours are flipped completely, with reds turning to blue and blues to yellow. The results are often diverse, with many negative photos, particularly those of people, plants and animals, taking on a ghostly or unearthly quality.
Here, we take a close look at 25 incredible negative photos, from straightforward negative snaps to gum bichromates and tweaked Photoshop colour inversions. Hopefully you’ll be able to take some inspiration from these shots and try to produce your own negative masterpieces.
Dandelion Puff Ball (Mike Baird)
Taken with a Nikon P6000, this close up of a dandelion is absolutely mesmerising. Although it might look like as though the photographer spent hours touching up the pic, in fact he simply opened it in Photoshop, clicked on Adjustments and selected Invert.
A Negative Rose (Bestrated)
The black lines emphasise its coiling form.
Negative on Candle Light (Pierofix)
This spectral figure looks this way thanks to the winning combination of negative photography and candlelight.
Negative Waterfall (FatMandy)
This image can be classified as a “happy accident”. When the photographer took the photo to be developed, it was printed in negative by mistake. The result is quite stunning. It shows water cascading down a reflective surface.
E-Lim-I-Nate the Negative (BeautifulRust)
Captured with a Nikon D5000, I love the clarity that negative photography brings to this very simple image.
Light Streaks in Negative (Chrisjfry)
These are lights on a Christmas tree. The photographer achieved the shot by waving his Sony Cybershot around before switching to negative.
Negative Feather (tanakawho)
Like flowers, feathers suit negative photography perfectly. You’ve got to love the colours and subtle tones in this captivating photo.
Negative (The One Next Door)
Under normal circumstances, a mouse would be classed as one of the most boring subjects for a photograph imaginable. Switch to negative HDR photography, however, and you get a colourful, appealing snap.
Girl and Dog (larrybobsf)
Using a negative photo as the foundation, the artist used watercolour pigment and layers of printing to produce this gum bichromate.
Windchime and Color Negative (wdj(0))
Negative photography brings out the most beautiful vivid colours in this swirling wind chime.
Infinite Beach (Cyron)
In this wonderfully eerie image, it’s almost impossible to tell where the beach ends and the sea begins. The large black cloud, which forms the main focus of the composition, looks awesome.
Decrepit Old Newark Jail (Kevin Keopke)
Negative photography brings out the true griminess of the entrance to this Newark prison. The graffiti seems to glow and the path extends infinitely.
Leaf C-41 (Len Komanac)
This is the surface of a leaf with all the vessels clearly visible.
Montagem de Incenso em Negativo (dias.leo)
The photographer of this image has captured the wispy trail of an incense stick perfectly.
Old Barn (Brocktopia)
Like something out of Scooby Doo, this seriously spooky snap of a barn is a print from an image that was scanned from a negative.
Light Trails in Fog (Johnrossnc)
This is another abstract negative photo which cleverly conceals its subject matter. The black streaks are in fact light trails captured on a very foggy night.
Slow Dancing (Jrlarimer)
The second gum bichromate in this list, this image was shot on 27 June 2010 with a Panasonic DMC-FZ35, but it looks much older with a real vintage quality.
This negative shows a spiky cactus with greens and yellows inverted into varying shades of blue.
Pier 19 (Abi Skipp)
Pier 19 is a restaurant by Lake Wakatipu on the South Island of New Zealand. The result is tremendous with the bright trees contrasting against a dark, maroon sky.
This negative photograph of London’s Battersea Power Station really brings out the mammoth scale of such a gigantic industrial building.
Junkie’s Running Dry (Paul Excoff)
Plenty of work went into making this image look this great. This image has some great tones and texture.
Another dream-like image, this time showing Kievskaya Metro Station, Moscow. The photographer took a photo of a negative with his digital camera before inverting the colours on his computer, turning the yellows to blue.
Leaves Negative (Mammaoca2008- Back for a while)
This leafy photo is a visual feast with real depth and blues on show.
Neon Lotus (Tanakawho)
A negative image with some colour treatment added, this picture of a solitary flower is truly spectacular.
Sea Holly (dregster)
Nature photography becomes a new world to explore as a negative image.
Lah1971 shot this this highly creative, otherworldly image of a goldfish. The colours look almost metallic.