Shadow and Silhouette Photography Techniques

Shadows are naturally evocative. The result of matter coming between a surface and incoming rays of light, they’re simultaneously symbolic of dependence as well as absence. Artists of all sorts utilize shadows—literally and figuratively—to drive home powerful points. Here, Marcin Lewandowski goes into detail on how a lack of light can actually do quite a bit to enhance a photograph:

Shadow play is directly correlated with the quality of light in an image. Generally, photographers prefer to bathe their subjects in as much light as possible. However, accentuating shadows (in the field and in the studio) and consequently obscuring details can create striking results.

With a strong backlight, it’s possible to capture silhouettes—outlines that create strong, graphic images. They happen to be a great way of turning a problematic low lighting situation into something absolutely stunning. Of course, this isn’t always an option. In these scenarios, you can either cast shadows of your own or experiment with shadows already in the scene naturally.

natural shadowplay

As photographers, it’s important to remember that we harness the ability to manipulate light to create whatever image our minds can dream up. When we gain the ability to control light, we also become capable of controlling shadow. Don’t be afraid to step outside the box and embrace the darkness. The dramatic images you make may take your photography to a whole new level.

Brazilian skyscraper light and shadow

“There are few more enjoyable things than the game of shadows. Whether you choose to cast them on a model or play with scarce light, you will shortly discover an ocean of possibilities that can change with the flick of a button.”

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