Shadows as Characters

 
Burst mode is useful while shooting shadows cast by traffic lights as they’re always changing. Photograph/Raj Lalwani

Burst mode is useful while shooting shadows cast by traffic lights as they’re always changing. Photograph/Raj Lalwani

This article was originally published in September 2014. 

Transform a Mundane Landscape
You may have the prettiest landscape in front of you, but just a casual snapshot will be just that, a snapshot. One interesting way in which you can photograph every beautiful place you connect to, can be to shoot your own shadow within the landscape. Not only will this be an interesting selfie, it will also add a personal connect to an otherwise ‘pretty’ picture. This does involve some patience and recce, as you will need to be in the right place at the right time of day, so that the sunlight forms your shadow in the appropriate direction, as per your intended composition.

Simplicity works best when shooting shadows. Photograph/Raj Lalwani

Simplicity works best when shooting shadows. Photograph/Raj Lalwani

Watch Them Change!
In the monsoon, clouds cause light to change drastically within seconds. A shadow may be there one second, and gone the next! This is why you have to be quick on your feet. Previsualise the composition and the moment the light changes and the shadow appears, be ready to click.

Shadows formed by the lightbeams of passing cars and bikes are even more intriguing. These shadows change in size and shape as the vehicle moves closer and then moves away. Shoot a number of frames to get the perfect balance of the shadow size with the rest of the background.

Merge Shadows With Other Elements
Look up the masterful self portraiture work of Lee Friedlander. Friedlander is a legendary American photographer whose dynamic compositions make use of space to create humour, poignancy and quietude. He has several images in which his shadow interacts with the urbanscape that lies in front. Sometimes, the shadow may be headless. At other times, it merges into a physical element that is right in front.

Clichés Can Be Fun Too
Remember the shadow games we have all played as children? Shadow theatre may be a rather obvious way of making interesting characters with light and shade, but it is always fun. If the concept and the interaction between the characters you make is engaging, the picture will work.

Tags: Composition, September, self portrait, better photography, tips and tricks, monsoon, Landscapes, shadows, 2014, charcters, light beams, Lee Friedlander, cliché, shadow theatre