“Where light and shadow fall on your subject – that is the essence of expression and art through photography” – Scott Bourne
This weeks challenge word is “shadow”. I had a hard time choosing a photograph to submit. Ultimately, I chose Sea Grass Shadows on the Sand Dune. I went with what is typically thought of as representative of shadows, the cast shadow. At the end of this posting I’ve also included some of my favorite shadow photos.
In folk tales, film noir, and Gothic novels, shadows are premonitions of doom, death and evil. Think Fredrich Murnau’s 1922 film, “Nosferatu”. Remember that iconic image of Orlok climbing up Hutter & Ellen’s staircase. Yeah, creepy right??? Murnau knew what he was doing.
The use of shadows in art predates Western Civilization. Both Pliny the Elder and Quintilian cited the outlining of a shadow as a primal artistic act, but they disagreed about where this originating myth took place and the people involved in it. In most conventional art histories of Western painting, they do not begin in antiquity, but with the Renaissance. Shadow, orchiaroscuro, the interplay of light and shadows, is mostly identified with Renaissance painters. The use of shadows were not only used to give form to perspective, they were used to elicit feelings of right and wrong, good and evil.
Since the mid 19th century it has been photography, especially black and white photography, where shadows have found a home. Think Ansel Adams’s sublime landscapes or Brassaï’s Paris nocturnes. What mood, what shapes…They all seem to be formed from shadow instead of light…
In everyday life, the shadow is often overlooked. It is an essential component to living in a three dimensional world and although intangible, is an inherent part of the living world. So, along the way in life, take time to stop and look not at the light, but into the shadows.