5 Tips For Having Fun With Shadows Page 2

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#4: Silhouettes
Silhouettes offer another opportunity to use shadows. A silhouette is a shadow--an unlit subject. Thus, silhouettes work best when the subject is readily identifiable by its shape; subjects primarily noted for their texture or detail are not good choices for silhouettes.

Bird watchers will immediately recognize these silhouettes as great-tailed grackles, by their shapes and poses. Others might simply enjoy the overall picture.

4

#5: Leading Lines
Shooting outdoors early or late in the day, you can use the long shadows produced by the low-angle sun to lead the viewer's eye into the photo.

Shadows extending toward the camera can create leading lines, too.

5

Penumbra?
Shadows are more than just black blobs that mimic the shapes of things casting them. At the center, known as the umbra, the shadow is very dark indeed. But at the edges is a lighter, softer-edged area called the penumbra. When conditions are right, you can record this in a photograph of the shadow. (If the light source creating the shadow is a true point source, there will be no penumbra. But few true point light sources exist in our daily lives.)

Soft Vs. Hard Light
Soft light is produced by light sources that are large relative to the size of the subject, such as an overcast sky. Hard light is produced by light sources that are small compared to the size of the subject, such as direct electronic flash. The sun is huge, but so far from the Earth that it acts as a hard light source. Hard light produces the best shadows for photos.

How Long?
Outdoors, the lower the sun is in the sky, the longer the shadows objects here on Earth will cast. A six-foot person will cast a six-foot shadow when the sun is at a 45° angle to it. When the sun is lower in the sky, the shadow will be longer; when the sun is nearly overhead, the shadow will be very short.

How Sharp?
The closer the object casting the shadow is to the surface upon which it is casting the shadow, the sharper the shadow will be. An airplane flying high overhead will cast a shadow so fuzzy you might not even notice it, while an object just a foot above the ground will cast a very sharp shadow.

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