The Global FlyFisher
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Harsh shadows from a bright source like the sun are usually not very welcome in our images, and we often jump through hoops to avoid them. But how about making the shadows a part of the image, and maybe even the most important part?
When the sun shines, you get shadows. Harsh shadows from a bright source like the sun are usually not very welcome in our images, and we often jump through hoops to avoid them, searching for shadow on bright days, using fill flash or even bringing out reflectors to soften up the contrast between bright and dark.
But how about making the shadows a part of the image, and maybe even the most important part?
As I'm writing this, the sun is shining so brightly on my screen that I can hardly see it. It's October and being in the northern hemisphere that means that the sun is low. While that might be a menace when working next to a large window, it can actually be a blessing when being by the water and taking pictures. The low sun means long and distinct shadows, and that can be utilized in pictures and create some different effects.
Anything you place in a sunlit spot, be it gear, a fish or an angler, will cast a shadow, which is most likely both larger and more dominant than the object that casts it. That can sometimes be a pain, but consider incorporating the shadow into your image.
Taking pictures of your own shadow cast in front of you when you are facing away from the sun is something that has been seen many times, but still manages to produce a sense of presence in a picture. It might be cliche, but it still tells the viewer that you were there without having you directly in the picture. These self portraits can be trivial and are often seen, but once in a while they do work and serve a purpose.
When shadows are cast from the side, and the whole shadow is clearly visible, consider getting the whole shadow in the picture. That might mean putting your main subject in one side of the frame to "make room" for the shadow, but that will just add to the tension and dynamics in the image. In the same manner a shot against the light where you have shadows of your subject falling towards you, consider tilting the camera forwards to get those shadows fully in the picture. You might even consider cutting away the main subject and only getting the shadows!
Shooting gear or flies can also be done using the shadow as a major part of the image. Most gear will cast some weird shadows, be it thin rods and lines or reels with geometrical and sometimes intricate shapes. A low light source will again accent any effect, and winter images or images shot in low sun over smooth surfaces like a sandy beach can give you some really different gear images.
You might even consider cutting away the main subject and only getting the shadows!