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Photography and Shadows

Updated on September 22, 2015
LuisEGonzalez profile image

I enjoy photography and have been doing so professionally and independently for over 30 years.

6.10.2012 at 9:56h, License:  attribution,no derivative
6.10.2012 at 9:56h, License: attribution,no derivative | Source

Although using filters is easier, they are always required. You can place any object whose shadows will be of interest to you and compliment the scene; be part of it not distract from it.

A good starting point is to use a plant with several thin leaves or twigs and place it directly in front of the light source which is aimed away from the subject. Using twigs for Halloween motifs creates a "haunting atmosphere", which by the way was a popular and easy method in use during the early years of Hollywood movie making.

A variation that applies true back lighting is to aim the light source directly at the subject. Here you have to set the camera control for the subject,instead of for the light, this must be done manually as the automatic settings will be set for the strongest light source, thus you will end up with a silhouette. Place a filter/cover onto the light source that has a design which looks like a circle inside of a circle. This illuminates the fringes of the scene without casting an overpowering light onto the subject.

A piece of photographic equipment well suited for this is known as a catch light, normally used to add highlights to a models' eyes, it can also be used to create shadow effects.

A further technique which creates fascinating effects, yet a little more complicated to achieve, is to project an image through a projector onto a white wall. The projected image can be black and white or color. Then arrange your subject in front of or around the projected image. With a little creativity, this results in images that are not only spectacular but extremely eyecatching and attention grabbing.

The market for this style are art galleries, photography publications, fashion photography, product photography and in marketing campaigns. New ways and techniques of photographing are always in demand, the secret is to master at least one style or technique and make a name for yourself. When these types of shots are needed by publishers, marketing and advertising companies, you will be the one to go to.

CC BY-SA 2.0
CC BY-SA 2.0 | Source

Shadow Photography

And the Lord said "let it be light..and so light appeared..but light felt lonesome and asked for a friend, then the Lord said "OK", and shadow was born.

Light complained that this shadow would always be right next to it, at all times, leaving no room for privacy, to which the Lord said "you wanted a friend, and this one will be with you forever..I have a sense of humor too you know"

I guess that's why we use the term unruly shadows when talking about controlling shadows in photography. Controlling unwanted shadows has always been a sound photographic technique.

Unwanted shadows can ruin an image by darkening elements of the scene which take away from the main perspective. Most of the issues with shadows can be now be edited with the aid of digital photo editing software programs, but this is better done if they can be managed in the original phase. However, shadows can be used as part of the image.

A good use of shadows can add interest to the photographs, sometimes the shadows become the center of attention in the photo and are what adds mystery to it.

Off course you need to add light, and carefully controlling it is what makes the shadows which it creates so interesting. Shadows can be shown that cover the subject, lightly dappled it, go away from it or towards it.

Most of theses shots have to be taken in controlled settings. But they too can be used during daylight hours, albeit they will be strong shadows. You can make shadows represent certain colored hues. This can be done by using a colored background. The shadows will not be colored, they will just seem that way because they will fall upon the colored area.

By using certain filters which you place in front of the light source, you can create effects such as thin lines, circles, squares or almost any shape.

By using multiple light sources you can aim the shadows at various points of the scene. In other words, you can create independent shadows that in essence will become separate subjects. Side lightning, back lightning are good techniques to use in the creation of shadows.

A technique which creates spectacular effects that seem almost surreal is to use a back light placed directly behind the main subject. The light source should be used with a special cover onto which a design has been added.

A simple DIY project is to use margarine tub covers, plastic disposable plates or similar structures and hand cut the design.

But here is the difference between true back lighting and this technique; The light source is not aimed at the subject but away from it towards a white or light colored background, preferably a wall, you can spice the effect up by using colored lights.

© 2011 Luis E Gonzalez


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