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.
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.
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.
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
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