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TOPIC: 2018 Schedule - May Topics

2018 Schedule - May Topics 16 Dec 2017 08:07 #4352

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An image about shadows. The shadow or shadows must provide significant visual impact. (Albany Interclub topic)
Neither hard or soft shadows are 'best'. Which is right for a particular image is entirely dependent on the subject. It's arguably a visual cliché, but for portraiture softer light is traditionally used for portraits of women and children, harder light for men. However, photography is often more fun when rules are being broken so there's nothing wrong with experimenting to see what works in a particular shooting situation. Shadows cast by an object are a projection of the shape of that object. If the shape is recognisable, the shadow can make an intriguing image in its own right. The key is to keep it simple. Shadows with ambiguous shapes, or that interact with other shadows never quite work. It's also one occasion when hard light is definitely needed. Softer light just won't give the definition or contrast that's necessary for this sort of image to be successful. Shoot into the light however (being of course very, very careful when doing so – use filters to reduce the sun's strength) and the shadows will project towards the camera. Using a wide-angle lens will produce the most dramatic results, particularly when the camera is close to the ground.
It all comes down to how a photographer approaches the concept of shadows in snapping pictures. Shadows aren’t simply black masses that border light; rather, they’re entities that are every bit just as alive as the light in a picture!
Focus the Attention of the Viewer
Shadows can be utilized to focus the attention of your viewers. Shadows succeed at this by eliminating details from the less vital areas of a picture. Here’s an example. If you have a dramatic portrait that depends on light to illuminate the subject’s eyes yet lets the rest of the face hide within deep shadow, the shadows would obviously conceal the details of much of the face. Therefore, your viewers’ attention will automatically be drawn to the eyes.
Contrast as Well as Drama
Contrast can be incorporated to create high drama in a photograph, and shadows are a highly effective method of achieving this. It’s natural for an individual’s eyes to be drawn to an area of a picture where high tonal contrast is present. Of course, the catch is that any tonal contrast at all is impossible without the presence of shadows. What creates the wonderful and attention-catching contrast is the interplay of shadows and light.
Here’s another example. Let’s say you take a picture of a dramatic sunset that’s characterized by the sunlight punching through various openings in the clouds. This works to produce different sections of light that are surrounded by certain dark areas where the cloud cover is relatively heavy.
Displaying Texture
When shadows are utilized to display texture, they often do so by involving the sun. In a photograph of this nature, the sun will appear at a relatively low angle to the horizon, which causes it to cast shadows over either the terrain or subject. With this approach, a photographer will move in close in order to highlight an object’s texture.
Let’s look at this method in action. If a photographer snaps a picture of a setting sun to focus attention on the ripples of the sand on a beach, he has effectively used shadows to show texture!
Guiding the Viewer’s Attention
Since shadows always have a shape, for the most part, they are ideal at guiding the attention of the viewer where you want it. Let’s say a shadow with a shape points to the picture’s centre of interest. The shadow will have guided the attention of the viewer to the centre of interest, just like that!
Now, the opposite can also be observed. Let’s say that shaped shadows surround a portion of light that points to the picture’s point of interest. The shadows will then have also guided the viewer’s attention to the centre of interest. In either scenario, what happens is that the picture’s effect is made stronger because the centre of interest gets reinforced thanks to the use of shadows.
Showcasing Form
The showcasing of form in a photograph is actually one of the most common ways that shadows can be used. Once more, the sun is also incorporated into the shot, typically at a low angle to the horizon. This creates the effect of long shadows being cast across the terrain. If there are any inconsistencies in either the terrain’s or subject’s shape, these will only get magnified.
A nice example of this is when the sun’s low in the sky and then casts long shadows over some sand dunes right before it slips below the horizon for good.
Shadow Distortion
Yet another way to be savvy in the use of shadows is through distortion. You can achieve this shadow-distortion effect simply by taking advantage of a backdrop that has an interesting shape. Even the use of a book can create a highly interesting shadow distortion.
Here’s how it works. Take a very ordinary subject—like a ring—and place it on top of an open book. Depending on where exactly you position your light source, you can cause the ring (standing, not lying down) to cast a shadow on the pages of the book in such a way that said shadow takes on the shape of a heart!
The Upside-Down Effect
Turning a picture upside down seems like something too simple to produce any desirable result, but when you’re working with shadows, even something as basic as this yields wonderful results. If it’s a sunny day and the subject casts a strong shadow on the ground, take a picture.
When you turn the picture upside down, a highly interesting visual effect will take place that won’t be fully understood by your viewers until they take some time to study it! Turning a picture like this upside down will actually cause the subject and shadow to switch places, giving your viewers all sorts of visual tricks to ponder over.
Don’t Underestimate the Power of Shadows
In this guide, we saw the many, diverse ways that shadows could be incorporated into everyday photography. The end result is a slew of photographs that draws the eye like nothing else. They smartly use focus, texture and, in some cases, even misdirection to highlight the power of shadows as a way of producing something aesthetically pleasing.
Shadows can be used to obscure, as when they hide facial detail to draw the eye to a certain part of the face. They may also be used to display both texture and form, as when their presence highlights details in the terrain (such as ripples in the sand) or long shadows on a stretch of ground. Sometimes, they’re used simply to give viewers something to really scratch their heads about, as when they’re featured in shadow distortion.

Intense Colour
An image about a subject in which intense colour is artistically portrayed.
Colour is as much as part of a photo's composition as other building blocks such as shape, form, texture, lines and light.
Use strong, bold colours. Deep, saturated colours have impact. The key to using strong colours successfully is in keeping the composition simple. Including lots of different colours in a photo lessens their impact. For maximum effect, stick to a few blocks of bold colour. Consider the use of the polarising filter.
It is not all about strong bold colours, consider the Use Subtle, Pastel Colours or Use One Colour Against a Neutral Background, Let One Colour Dominate, colour also has an emotional value. Blue for cool, green for fresh etc.,
Look at Pete Turner Photography: peteturner.com
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