Photography is the art of capturing light, but did you know, shadows – the counterpart of light, also plays an important role in the creation of an image? We all know what a shadow is, it’s that follower that keeps stalking us on bright sunny days or lit places, especially at night! Shadow is more than this, it is also the darkest area of a scene as opposed to the highlights which illuminate the brightest.
Shadow is at its simplest a figure created behind an object when it is illuminated by light. In photography, an image without a shadow is often two-dimensional in shape, though the addition of a third component, the shadow, transforms this shape and often makes it the main focus of the image.
Photographing shadows as the main subject can be can be fun, and enhance your photography skills! To create images on a monotone background, look for a plain light-colored background, a wall, a door way or even grass, anything that does not have a pattern or darker colors. The shadow is already in the tones of gray or black, and you want a background that will contrast with it so that the subject will show up clearly.
A key factor that influences the shadow is light quality. If the light illuminating the subject is big or is far away, a soft or diffused shadow will be created and the shadow will have faint edges. If you have a small light source or light the subject at close range, a hard shadow is produced and this will create a shadow that has sharper edges.
At home you have a huge number of options for creating and photographing shadows, especially on a bright day, though artificial light directed on or through an object also produces a shadow that is sharp.