Saturday, February 09, 2013

Adding shadows to the mix

click photo to enlarge
I've said elsewhere in this blog that I like to use shadows in photographs. It seems to me that they add a dimension that is quite unique. Often their contribution is in the form of a doppelganger - an insubstantial echo of the solid objects or people in or around the subject. They also bring darkness, and with it contrast, that otherwise might be absent. But more than that, shadows inject mood into an image.

I've often wondered to what extent deep, primeval fears and feelings influence how we see shadows. Certainly mankind has woven the night and shadows into many of the myths, legends, stories, songs and other art that has come down the centuries to us. Even today shadows feature in film and TV simply to convey feeling and atmosphere. The success of the Danish TV series, "The Killing", and its sequels would have been much less if it hadn't been set largely at night. And, when I think of some of my favourite films, I notice cinematography that accentuates shadows and darkness figuring large in the list. In a post of January 2011 about black and white photography I said that David Lean's 1946 version of "Great Expectations" was a fine argument for the virtues of the monochrome medium in still photography. It uses shadows well too, of course. However, were I to nominate a film that showcases the value and power of shadows then I can think of no better example than Carol Reed's 1949 film, "The Third Man". Vienna at night, with its bomb damaged buildings, street lights and the shadows of people (and cats) as they scurry about, are magnificently conceived and contribute enormously to the high regard that the film continues to enjoy.

Today's photograph shows part of the facade of a Georgian street in Ledbury, Herefordshire. I liked the way the shadow of the buildings behind and to the side of me threw shapes and darkness across the sunlit composition. The stronger orange and the washed out yellow became more important elements with the shadow's depressing effect, and in my mind's eye I saw the composition as semi-abstract arrangement of shapes and colours.

photograph and text © Tony Boughen

Camera: Canon
Mode: Aperture Priority
Focal Length: 38mm
F No: f7.1
Shutter Speed: 1/200
ISO: 100
Exposure Compensation:  0 EV
Image Stabilisation:N/A