This post is about shadows, but first here’s a question which follows on from my last blog post:
Just how simple can an image be, and still tell a story? Here’s an example…
This ball was at Rhossili on the Gower Peninsular. At first glance it’s just a ball on the ground, but if you look more closely you can see it’s wet sand with seashells, so it’s on a beach near the sea. You can tell the direction of the sea from the pattern of the sand. There’s a distinct blue colour reflected in the sand at the top of the image, so the sky is blue. There’s also a hard shadow beneath the ball, so you can tell the sun is out and it’s near midday. It’s apparently simple, but actually there’s lots of information there. What the image doesn’t tell you is why the ball was on its own in the middle of a spectacular 2 mile beach!
Anyway, to get back to shadows….
We were talking to a friend last week, and he was telling us about his granddaughter, aged around 2, who on a recent sunny day discovered she had this strange thing attached to her feet: her shadow. She was transfixed by it, and we as adults should try to look at shadows in that same, “It’s a thing I’ve never seen before” way.
Here’s a shot where the late evening sun has thrown a long shadow. The dips in the ground have distorted the shadow into a curious shape. It’s a bit like the shape of the robots in the Studio Ghibli animation “Laputa: Castle in the Sky”. These images are fun to take, and often moving just a few yards can give a completely different image.
I like images that show the effect of something on its environment, rather than directly showing the thing itself.
This image is of a “ship in a bottle” at a hotel we stayed at. The sun was shining through the thick glass of the bottle and throwing a shadow of the ship on to the window sill. The glass distorted the shadow and also refracted the sunlight into swirling shapes. I waited until the shadow was at its longest to get the best shot.
With creative photography, you often have to wait until the right time of day, or even the right time of year. This shadow of some railings on concrete steps only looked “just right” for about 30 minutes. If it’s not “just right” it’s well worth making a mental note to go back at a different time, to get the best image.
If you don’t want to wait, or can’t wait, then you can make your own shadows and control how they look.
For this image I used a Nikon SB800 flash inside a wicker basket. The flash was fitted with a green filter, and I fired it wirelessly using Nikon’s CLS system. The holes in the basket caused an interesting pattern to be thrown on to the ceiling. I took lots, some of which were very abstract, but preferred this one that had the lampshade in it. It gives a sense of scale to the pattern, and if you stretch your imagination a bit (or a lot!), it looks like a flying saucer landing on a strange green planet…
So, shadows are fun, and you don’t always need to wait for the right weather to get good shadow images.
Remember: Think like a 2-year-old!