Spe­cial ef­fects Say it with shad­ows

Tom Welsh un­cov­ers the se­cret lives of the shad­ows be­hind us

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Shad­ows fol­low us around con­stantly, so we’re go­ing to cap­ture their sto­ries on cam­era. A suc­cess­ful shoot de­pends on good ideas, so think about what you want your shad­ows to be do­ing be­fore you head out with your Nikon. Pro­vid­ing a back­ground and telling a story in one im­age can be dif­fi­cult, but it’ll give view­ers plenty to talk about when it’s done well. Keep things sim­ple; as you are shoot­ing a two-di­men­sional sur­face, space is re­stricted.

To cre­ate the best shad­ows, you need a strong light source. The sun on a bright day is ideal, though you can use other sources of light, such as an off-cam­era flash or even street lights. Ar­ti­fi­cial light is more con­trol­lable, but also more dif­fi­cult to work with. When us­ing the sun, be aware of what an­gle the light is com­ing from: the low an­gles early and late in the day will re­sult in taller shad­ows stretched across the floor, whereas at mid­day shad­ows will be shorter as the light comes from di­rectly above.

The se­cret of this tech­nique is ob­scur­ing the cam­era within your own shadow so that you can star in the scene. You also need to shoot with a wide lens – we used a 24-85mm kit lens on our Nikon D610 D-SLR.

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