Shadow Photography

Related to the two week project of The Shadows, I thought I would take the opportunity to focus more on research to find out how important shadows are to photography.


Perhaps, one of the most powerful uses of shadows is for the creation of contrast to produce a dramatic effect. Above is an image that uses this approach. Shadows have been used three ways in this image. First, the clouds contain areas of light and areas of shadow. The dark areas of shadow in the clouds significantly increase the impact of the sky. Second, the shadows have been used to drop the foreground into silhouette. It would have been possible to use a split neutral density filter to bring out the detail in the foreground. However, any detail in the foreground would have competed for the viewers’ attention. This would have decreased the impact of the image. Instead, the heavy shadow in the foreground serves to focus the viewers’ attention on the sun and sky and to add a strong moodiness to the image. Third, the foreground shadow has created a strong diagonal line across the image. This serves to make the image a bit more dynamic.

In short, this image is totally dependent on the use of shadows. Had this image been shot a few minutes earlier when there was more light and less intense shadows, the impact of the image would have been significantly reduced.

Reference: Ron Bigelow


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