The Van Wert County Courthouse

Friday, Aug. 19, 2022

Using shadows to enhance compositions

Have you thought much about the use or role that shadows play in your composition? Well, consider the following observations.

Generally, you’ll want to shoot before 10 am or after 4 pm because the shadows will be longer and a more prominent part of the composition. Here’s the reasoning.  Think of snow drifts or sand dunes shot at noon without shadows, then the same scene recorded with shadows shot earlier or later in the day.  There’s quite a difference between the two isn’t there?

An example of how shadows can add to a composition by Rex Dolby

Almost any time you wish to make texture or surface details part of the composition, such as weathered wood on a barn or text on a monument, light at a low angle will help.

Another situation arises when you don’t have an object for your foreground, possibly a well-positioned shadow can fill in the blank space, thus adding depth to the scene and/or leading the viewer’s eye into the picture.

Interesting shadows on a surface may themselves become the subject of a photo, as well as staging a photo of a person doing an action with a real prop on the ground that the shadow appears to be kicking, holding or throwing.

We think of portrait photography as lighting-not shadows, but the more you study good portraits, the more you become aware of how shadows add to the image and dominate a dramatic portrait.

Set your camera to underexpose one or two stops so you won’t burn out the highlights nor fill in the shadows. For more discussion, why not attend the next Van Wert Area Photography Club meeting on Thursday, July 13, at 114 S. Race St.?

POSTED: 07/02/17 at 3:09 pm. FILED UNDER: Camera Club News