As I’ve always said, Light is everything, and should be considered first, even before your composition. When it interacts with shadows, the results can be incredible. It’s a sure fire way to take our imagery “up a notch”. Light is important for sure, but equally important are the shadows. Not only is it important to know where the light is going to be, but it’s equally important to know where the shadows will fall.
In my online class with the BPSOP, and my “Stretching Your Frame of Mind” workshop I conduct around the planet, students learn beforehand exactly where shadows will fall any day of the week, anywhere in the world. Using a program called Sunpath, and coupling it with a hand bearing compass called a Morin 2000 not only do they learn where the shadows will fall, but which direction the light will be coming from, when it will be coming, how long it will be there, and when it will leave.
Pretty important information if you ask me!
Once the interrelationship between light and shadow is established, a mood is set and the results can range from mysterious to downright scary. This is where the Theory of Gestalt comes in. Shadows can affect how the viewer perceives and is a quick way to conjure up all kinds of emotions by giving a dramatic edge to your composition.
In both these images, I’ve made the shadows important enough as to make them the subject.
Photographers usually don’t give shadows any consideration; in fact, to many they can be intimidating. Truth be told, they are leaving out a very important part of their imagery. Shadows can suggest what we can’t see in our reality. In fact, shadows help us to “celebrate the unseen”. Btw, the next time you’re out shooting, don’t think/worry about shadows falling on people’s faces.
Finally, when you master the light, be sure to master the shadows as well. We should pay tribute to the shadow, as it can help us take our imagery to “a place where no man has gone before”!!!
-BPSOP Instructor: Joe Baraban