Shadows help to provide a sense of dimension in a photograph. The long shadows at the end of the day or the shadows created by side-lighting can create a stunning photograph. Try to add some side lighting to your photographs and see what you think.
Rembrandt used shadows when he was painting his masterpieces. In fact, studio photographers still use “Rembrandt lighting” today. The distinguishing feature of Rembrandt light is that the shadow of the subject’s nose connects with the shadow cast on the side of the face. The master artist knew that lighting was crucial to a scene or subject and he is remembered for how he painted specific shadows into his portraits.
Shadows are like vegetables—they are an important part of our diet, but not everyone likes them. Shadows can create a breath-taking photograph that otherwise would be flat. Photographs are only two-dimensional so utilizing anything that will help create the sense of depth can be useful.
Shadows obviously change with the time of day and the direction of the sunlight. This is why fill light is so important, even on bright sunny days. Harsh shadows from a hat brim can be nasty and distracting to a photograph. Fill light can help brighten the shadows.
There was an old saying years ago, “Only the shadow knows.” Well, maybe, but as a photographer you better begin to understand at least a little bit about shadows and when they can be useful. Sometimes a photograph can be made spectacular with the creative use of a shadow. Give it a try!