In photography, a negative is an image, usually on a strip or sheet of transparent plastic film, in which the lightest areas of the photographed subject appear darkest and the darkest areas appear lightest. This reversed order occurs because of the extremely light-sensitive chemicals a camera film must use to capture an image quickly enough for ordinary picture-taking, which are darkened, rather than bleached, by exposure to light and subsequent photographic processing.
In the case of color negatives, the colors are also reversed into their respective complementary colors. Typical color negatives have an overall dull orange tint due to an automatic color-masking feature that ultimately results in improved color reproduction.
Negatives are normally used to make positive prints on photographic paper by projecting the negative onto the paper with a photographic enlarger or making a contact print. The paper is also darkened in proportion to its exposure to light, so a second reversal results which restores light and dark to their correct order.