Thursday, August 27, 2009

The Shadow Knows...

John Chandler, a photography instructor of mine, once asked the class, "what is in 95% or more of the pictures you take?". There were many answers, some sensible, some crazy but the correct one was... wait for it... shadow.

Huh, who knew??

So the assignment for that week was to take a picture where the shadow was the subject. Hmmmmmm. I think for the next four days the city was covered in thick, white cloud making the really beefy shadows scarce if not gone altogether. By "beefy" I mean the long, strong, thick shadows you only get at sunrise and sunset. Anyhow after days of little success I was finally able to nab this shot on the way to work.

The Shadow

Nothing super terrific but it completed the assignment.

Tonight was different. Six months and plenty of shots later my eye is a bit more tuned to spotting great light and the accompanying shadow. Nearing sunset I came across a bike leaning against a brick wall. The shadow initially peaked my interest but as I looked around the frame the color and the lines drew my eye. Below was the first shot.


Not a bad shot but it doesn't tell the whole story.

I started to move around a bit, recomposing the image and looking around the frame. Then I saw the best shadow of all: the tree! I zoomed out wider and turned the camera to portrait orientation and this is what I got.


Much better! The tree absolutely makes the shot. It frames the picture, adds interest and completes the story.

Making this picture tonight made me think of a couple of tips to share.

1. Don't just stick with one idea, one composition. Shoot tight. Shoot wide. Landscape. Portrait. Add elements. Subtract them. When you start to look beyond the subject so many more possibilities emerge.

2. Shadow is already in most of your pictures anyhow so why not use it to your advantage? It can augment the story, complete it, or, it can even be the story all by itself.


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