Eight Great Ways To Include Shadows In Your Pictures

shadows_friends.jpgUsually on this site I describe ways to deal with shadows in pictures. This is because shadows can distract the viewer from the main subject. Shadows also often create high contrast that gives the sensor some hard time. In past articles I’ve shown how to eliminate the shadows, minimize them, diffuse them and even bounce to get rid of them.

But what if? What if there was a way to turn the shadow into a friend, to make the shadow so distracting, it will become the subject itself?

In this article I’ve decided to face the enemy and make it a friend. Here are eight ways to get a great shadow picture:

1. Take a shot where your shadow is seen well, but the subject’s “projection” is minimal. This gives the picture an interesting twist, since usually the subject to image relation is inverted.

Crossing by Gilad Benari

2. Turn your photo upside down so the subject takes the place of the shadow and the shadow takes the place of the subject. Like in the previous idea, the viewer will have to think a minute before understanding what’s going on here.

King of shadows by Gilad Benari

3. Distort the shadow by using an interesting shaped backdrop; or a book :) (I’d day that a rolled paper or an accordion-like folding can make great shadow modifiers as well). Check out Mik’s take on this technique.

A Valentine for my Wife by Ella’s Dad

4. Use the shadow to echo and dialog with your subject. If nothing is special on a particular sunset, shadows cast on walls will take the form of the subject. Use that tip to “duplicate” your silhouette with a shadow.

siamesina by Rufus Gefangenen

5. Use shadows to fill empty part of the frame and create interest in an otherwise non attractive area. The floor for example, would have been a boring great without the pattern cast by the window frame.

Lines and Wires by Fábio Pinheiro

6. Let dark shadows extent dark elements in your picture. Your subject and shadow are talking the same compositional language.

Inverted Light by Jan Tik

7. Make a mirror like shadow by blocking a direct sun reflection. This is a picture I specially like. It features both yours truly and my shadow.

Waiting in the light by Gilad Benari

8. Echo your main subject with shadows of similar subjects (or find a play mate when you are completely alone). As you can see there are only two players in this shot.

Shadow Game by Aron Brand

I would like to try something new – an assignment. The rules are simple – any photo can participate as long as the shadow in the picture is an important part of the composition. I am really exited about doing an assignment post as it may invoke some interesting discussions and help share some photography knowledge around. Feel free to build on the ideas portrayed in this post. Use them to create something of your own.

Some technical assignment info:
– The deadline for this assignment is December 15th, that’s 10 day from now.
– To show your work, post the image to the flickr pool and tag it with: DIYP, shadow. You can find fellow’s pictures here. Another option is to show them on the comments section.
– you can ask questions and consult in the comments or on the flickr group.

On my next post I’ll discuss where to find them fine shadows.

I would like to thank Aron Brand, Gilad Benari, Jan Tik, Fábio Pinheiro, Rufus Gefangenen and Ella’s Dad, for allowing me to use their picture on this tutorial, either by accepting my mail request or by licensing their images under creative commons. (Learn more about Creative Commons at Epic Edits)

Related Links:
Sunset photography
4 ways to bounce a flash
Learn about Contrast