Using shadow to capture detail in photos

In the summertime there are many opportunities to take photos as we head to the beach or to the park. It’s outdoor time, and we all like to spend more time with our children and grandchildren – after the long winter months following Christmas, it’s once again time to start making memories.

But beware the summer sun when creating your family photos! The strong rays of the summer sun can wash out your photos – the human eye needs shadow and contrasts to help the human brain process what’s going on in the image.

This action shot is pretty good, except the boy on the right is practically obscured by murky shadow. It’s tough to take photos of kids at the best of times, but it probably would have been a better idea to have positioned the camera to the left of the photo (and then somehow encouraged the kids to run into the sun).

This photo has a slightly more interesting use of shadow – there is lots of detail for the eye to capture – but at the end of the day the subject’s eyes are obscured by shadow.

Here are three examples of how shadow can add detail to make a picture come alive. In each case, the interplay of shadow and light brings the faces alive, and helps the viewer relate to the subject of the photo.

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