Everything You Need To Know About Shadow Photography
Exhibit|December 2016

I have done a Shutterbug column on Light Photography few months back. I was pondering over what next to come up with in this issue, and right then it stuck me that photographers do tend to pay a lot of attention to light photography…and at the same time ignore totally the existence of shadow photography.

Shreya Bhattacharya

This is quite natural to think of light as one of the most important aspects of photography. On the other hand, shadows may seem to be less important – simply a lack of light. This would be a major mistake — for light is nothing without shadows.

Shadow plays an important part in photography. Without it, photos would look flat, lacking in dimension and texture. But have you ever thought about making shadow the main subject of a photograph? Photographers are often urged to learn to read the light. However, reading the light is only half the challenge — one must also learn to read the shadows.

SHADOW PHOTOGRAPHY

Photography is known as the art of capturing light. But did you know that the counterpart of light, the shadow, also plays an important role in the creation of an image?

We all know what a shadow is, it’s that stalker that keeps following us on bright sunny days or well-lit places at night! Shadow is more than that though, it is also the darkest area of a scene as opposed to the highlights which illuminate the brightest.Shadows are not simply a dark mass that borders the light. Rather, shadows are an entity as alive as the light. It is the shadows that shape the light, draw attention to the light, and integrate with the light to produce striking photographic opportunities.

If we are to reach our full potential as photographers, we must think as much in terms of mastering the shadows as we do of mastering the light. Let me point out something at this stage; shadow photography is more about creativity than technicality. So, this article mainly deals with the creative ideas and tips, rather than my typical tips about settings and usage of cameras and lenses.

My article details five uses of shadows in creating dynamic photos:

1. CONTRAST AND DRAMA 

One of the most powerful uses of shadows is for the creation of contrast to produce a dramatic effect. People’s attention is automatically drawn to areas of high tonal contrast. However, tonal contrast cannot occur without shadows. Thus, it is the interplay of light and shadows that creates the attention grabbing contrast. An example of this use of shadows would be a dramatic sunset where the sun punches through gaps in the clouds creating areas of light which are surrounded by dark areas where the cloud cover is heavy.

2. FOCUS 

Shadows can be effectively used to focus a viewer’s attention. The shadows help focus the viewer’s attention by removing detail from the less important parts of the image. An example of this would be a dramatic portrait that uses light to illuminate the eyes of the subject but allows the rest of the face to fall into deep shadow. The shadow would help to hide the detail of the face. Thus, the viewer’s attention would be drawn to the eyes of the subject.explore

3. DIRECTING THE ATTENTION 

Shadows can be used to direct the viewer’s attention. This is because shadows often have a shape. When a shaped shadow points to the centre of interest in a photo, the shadow will direct the viewer’s attention to the centre of interest. Conversely, the shadows can surround an area of light that points to the centre of interest. In either case, the photo is strengthened as the centre of interest is reinforced by the use of shadow.

4. REVEALING FORM 

Continue reading your story on the app

Continue reading your story in the magazine

MORE STORIES FROM EXHIBITView All

FLIPPING CARS WITH BLAZING STARS

In conversation with ROHIT SHETTY

9 mins read
Exhibit
March 2021

CREATIVELY MUSICAL

Creative Stage V2 Soundbar review

2 mins read
Exhibit
March 2021

SHOOTS FAST AND LASTS LONGER

Samsung F62 Review

4 mins read
Exhibit
March 2021

Tech Launches This Month

Samsung launched the Galaxy F62 earlier this month at a competitive price point.

2 mins read
Exhibit
March 2021

TWITTER VS THE POTUS: THE ENTIRE STORY

Twitter first suspended Donald Trump’s account in May 2020 when he claimed postal votes were fraudulent. Since then several significant incidents happened over last year including the death of Georgy Flyod, Black Lives Matter protest, riots in major cities, the expulsion of the central police forces in several states, etc.

5 mins read
Exhibit
February 2021

WHATSAPP'S WANTS YOUR DATA AND IT'S NOT ASKING FOR PERMISSION

Facebook-owned popular instant messaging service Whatsapp is getting a lot of flack from Indian users, tech enthusiasts and other important official figures, since its last software update which, as per cybersecurity experts, removed the platform's earlier emphasis on Privacy and Security.

4 mins read
Exhibit
February 2021

RANVEER ALLAHBADIA

INFLUENCER OF THE MONTH

5 mins read
Exhibit
February 2021

THE ARCHITECTURAL DRIVE HAMPI

A Six hour Drive from Bengaluru will take you back 600+ years in History

4 mins read
Exhibit
February 2021

IN-GAME VEHICLES WE WISH WERE REAL

Videogames never fail to transport us to a world that is far beyond our reach, yet controllable by the tips of our fingers (quite literally). While open-world games offer a vast, new lifestyle to explore, they also give us a taste of some unique vehicles. Well, calling them vehicles would be an understatement as these perform so many more tasks than just commute, but they’re some uber-cool pieces of machinery nevertheless. That said, here are some of the coolest in-game vehicles that we would love to test-ride!

3 mins read
Exhibit
February 2021

BEST VIDEO GAME FRANCHISES OVER THE YEARS

Ever since gaming has reached the digital age, there have spawned numerous titles and franchises across the globe. While some were just one-trick ponies or got lost in the sands of time, there were others who cemented their names in history as some of the best video games. These also led to the rise of multiple franchises, who have since gone on to become multibillion-dollar industries in themselves. Following is a list of such video game franchises who have only grown bigger as the years have passed:

4 mins read
Exhibit
February 2021