This week’s photo challenge is a powerful reminder that creative inspiration is often found in the interplay between light and shadow, the known and the unknown. The Italians have a wonderful word for this: chiaroscuro.
As a writer, I find inspiration by studying the shadowed recesses both in the physical world and within us all. In fact, you might say that all writers are drawn to the shadows and are alert to them. It’s where we hear our characters whisper secrets and lies. It’s where we uncover hidden motivations and twists of character, not visible in broad daylight. As the great writer Elie Wiesel reminds us, even words and memories have shadows.
Most people think that shadows follow, precede or surround beings or objects. The truth is that they also surround words, ideas, desires, deeds, impulses and memories.—Elie Wiesel
Talented photographers use the interplay of light and shadow to highlight the texture and subtle colors of an object, like fellow blogger, Maria F. at Tropical Flowering Zone. Or, to convey mood, like Ruth E. Hendricks at Ruth E. Hendricks Photography.
I love taking shots in low light which focus on the dramatic tension between light and dark. My first shot was taken recently in Chicago on a twilight walk up Dearborn Street in the Gold Coast area. The shadow of the tree on the church tower caught my eye.
Find beauty not only in the thing itself but in the pattern of the shadows, the light and dark which that thing provides.—Junichiro Tanizaki
This second shot was taken on a walk at midday around Reeds Lake in East Grand Rapids, Michigan. The light at noon was intense and cast the bull rushes in shadow.
“The brightest flame casts the darkest shadow.” ― George R.R. Martin, A Clash of Kings
This last set of photos comes from an installation in an abandoned building, which won first prize during the Art Prize 2014 competition this fall in Grand Rapids. In the series of photos, skateboarders are navigating an indoor track built in the basement. It was dramatically lit with purple lights. Click on the image to see the skateboarder in action.
Shadow is the obstruction of light. Shadows appear to me to be of supreme importance in perspective, because, without them opaque and solid bodies will be ill defined; that which is contained within their outlines and their boundaries themselves will be ill-understood unless they are shown against a background of a different tone from themselves.–Leonardo da Vinci
For low light shots, I often use my new Sigma 17 to 70 mm f 2.8 lens or my Canon 50mm f 1.4 lens. But I must admit the camera on my Samsung Galaxy phone does a pretty good job in low light as well.
Have fun exploring the shadows!