Shadows are as important as Light in good Photography
Shadows and Light go hand in hand in Photography as they do in real life. We derive our photography rules and principles from nature and how light exists in nature. We come across light in our everyday situations and thus we see the shadows as well. Shadows are cast in the direction opposite of the light source.
Most of the time, since our eye has the ability to see detail in both light and dark tones together, we are able to see the detail in shadows as well. In other words, our eyes, due to the involvement of the brain reduce the contrast that exists. The film or the sensor does not record the image in the same way. It records through one aperture and shutter speed combination and thus can register detail either in the lighter tones or the darker tones. With an improvement in technology and with larger sensors, the ability to record detail in varied tones is greater as compared to a crop sensor.
We all like dramatic photographs. The shadows and the darker tones make the photograph more interesting than a regular plain shot.
To make this Fashion editorial of Ogaan for Dubai based Magazine - "Friday", more interesting, I decided to let the shadow of the beauty dish rim be visible in the frame, right around the face. I love shooting with single light and love the play of shadows that it creates.
The objective of these shots for a Body Builder was to well define the tones on his body. Single-directional hard light and its shadow play the perfect role in achieving this. You may not always be looking for a good modelling portfolio for a career in modelling but may even go for a portfolio or a set of good photographs just for yourself after making all the efforts on your body. One may even go for a Boudoir session in case of women or couples. A lot of couples are opting for a Boudoir session as a change from a typical pre-wedding shoot.
Shot for the jewellery for men, the overhead lighting threw the eyes in shadow but helped bring out the jewellery in a prominent manner.
Patterns make the photograph more interesting. It's not illuminated through blinds but a similar pattern created in the studio. A GOBO was used to create the pattern on the orange wall above.
While light defines the contours in fine art nude photography, it's the shadows that make it more artistic. It's sexier to conceal than to reveal. The subject has not been illuminated directly but through the large window creating a rim lighting.
Only what is relevant is important and not everything. In photography, do not illuminate the whole scene uniformly and that happens on stage as well. Expose for the right tones and let the other areas go into shadows. We look at the brightest part of the photograph or the scene as we look around as a common man. It's always better to let the shadows be deep without detail rather than having detail in the shadows with washed-out bright tones.
In Modelling and Glamour photography Shadows are generally avoided but for this modelling portfolio shot, the feel of candle lights could only be apparent if they were in darker shadows. In the following fashion, Glamour and modelling photographs, you will notice a significant role of shadows in highlighting the main subject.
Shadows are not always limited to low-key photography but can be widely used even when the mood is very light.
Munish Khanna is a leading Advertising and Fashion Photographer based in Delhi, India
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