Thursday, April 30, 2009

Using shadows in photography

click photo to enlarge
Shadows and reflections figure fairly heavily in my photography. I value them for their ability to contribute contrast, complexity, repetition and drama to things that are otherwise quite simple. They have the capacity to make the mundane look striking.

Yesterday, as I was shopping in Peterborough, I stood in a pedestrianised street in the shade of some plane trees. The spring sun was making dappled patterns on the block paving and people were sitting on the conveniently placed benches, enjoying the warmth and brightness. This particular British city is noted for the provisions it makes for cyclists, so bike parking facilities of one sort or another are very commonly found across its centre. At this particular location the landscape designers had settled on metal tubing bent into undulating lines as the parking solution and they caught my eye as a possible subject for a semi-abstract shot. But, many were in use with machines of every conceivable shape size and colour fixed to them. However, as I stood waiting a cyclist came along and removed his bike from one that was nearby, and pedalled away leaving it free to cast an inverted shadow of its shape across the ground.

"He who hesitates is lost", they say, so before anyone else could claim the bike stand for its legitimate purpose I stepped smartly across and took a couple of shots of it, before continuing with the shopping. This particular example, in portrait format, with a slight angle across the frame, is the best of the crop. Not a "Wow!" shot, but not without some pleasing qualities I think. However, without the shadow that doubles up the impact of the main subject, and contributes a little intrigue, it would amount to much less, and I wouldn't have thought of posting it.

photograph & text (c) T. Boughen

Camera: Olympus E510
Mode: Aperture Priority
Focal Length: 19mm (38mm/44mm equiv.)
F No: f7.1
Shutter Speed: 1/160 seconds
ISO: 100
Exposure Compensation: -0.3 EV
Image Stabilisation: On