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In the Shadows

This assignment ran from Sep 8 to Sep 29, 2016.

We’re followed by our shadows everywhere we go. They follow our every move—if we wave, our shadows wave back. It’s like an alternate version of ourselves that appears once we step into the light. As a kid I remember watching my shadow follow me as I ran across my parents’ yard. If I jumped, the shadow would jump just as high in the air as I could. Sometimes I would stop and see my shadow grow as the sun set directly behind me; it made me seem taller, like I was a giant, which at a young age seemed so cool.

Photography is known as the study of light. This assignment asks you to find shadows and capture them through images. During this assignment I’ll be looking for images of shadows captured in interesting and creative ways. It can be your shadow, the shadow of a friend, your pet’s shadow, or the shadows tall buildings cast over cities. This assignment will have you working with light, so you’ll notice that during certain times of day and depending on the direction of the sun, shadows can move and grow. When standing outside at midday with the sun beaming down you may have noticed your shadow standing before you and taken a photograph of it. This can be a creative way to do a selfie without having to stand awkwardly in front of your camera. If you find yourself standing at a high vantage point looking down as people pass by, you may notice their shadows tagging along for the journey. One great thing about this assignment is everyone has their own shadow to photograph, but take your time with this and be patient. Watch the light and follow the shadows.

Curated by:

Matt Adams
Senior Producer, Nat Geo Your Shot
Assignment Status
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Published Oct 7, 2016.
Thank you for your contributions!

Last Shadows

Posted sep 22, 2016

As I continue to edit through this assignment, I’m constantly impressed by the creative ideas this community of photographers presents with every new submission. You have found shadows passing through Grand Central Terminal, shadows of skyscrapers stretching out over downtown cityscapes, and people moving in and out of the shadows on their everyday commutes. One thing that I love to see is the growth of a photographer over time. I’m starting to see submissions where I’m noticing photographers switching compositions and learning to get low angles or move just a few feet over to grab the perfect perspective.

This image by Ladoza is a perfect mix of a great angle and storytelling with the use of shadows in the background. If Ladoza had stood up or tried to get a wide-angle photo of this scene, it would not have had the same impact. Don’t be afraid to zoom with your feet while you’re out in the field looking for great angles.

As editors on the Your Shot site, we never know just how many submissions we’ll get for each assignment or how well they will go over with this community. This assignment has been a lot of fun and it’s great to see the discussion among community members continue to grow every day. Let’s keep that going. Today I’m announcing that we’ll be adding a fourth submission to this assignment! Be wise with your last submission. Take the next few days to photograph some new images and really be thoughtful about what you choose to submit.

The Search for Shadows

Posted sep 15, 2016

We are almost up to 5,000 submissions for this assignment, and I have enjoyed seeing the creativity of this community. When we the editors of Your Shot launch assignments, we never really know what kinds of images are going to be submitted or what we may stumble upon during our edits.

This image by Felicia Chang just knocks the idea of capturing shadows out of the park. I love that the idea starts out as a portrait of two young girls enjoying an ice-cream cone on a summer evening, but then turns into this creative portrait that features shadows of people walking by, a couple holding hands, and a group taking a photo. I’ve stated before that watching the shadows can be a key to making this assignment work for you. Don’t be afraid to be patient and watch how shadows move across walls and buildings.

Your Shot photographer Melissa Nordan saw things from an aerial perspective in this image. This was a very creative idea and something I don’t think I could have come up with. Unexpected images are always a treat here on Your Shot.

My advice: Take the weekend and watch how the shadows are moving throughout our world. There are images out there. I wish you luck on your journey to find them.

Photographing Shadows

Posted sep 8, 2016

For my first editor’s update on the assignment “In the Shadows,” I want to share some visual examples that can help inspire you and hopefully send you down a creative path toward your next images.

I started to dig my way through the millions of images we have on Your Shot specifically looking for great ones featuring shadows. The first one I came upon was this image by Neetesh Kumar. This image has excellent composition, but what I love is the alternate-world feel we get from seeing the young boy’s shadow hang on to the shadow of the clothesline. When you’re out looking for shadows to photograph, look for ways the shadows might be interacting with other shadows. It’s as if they are trying to cross over into our own reality.

In my assignment intro, I wrote about photography being the study of light. This image by Taras Bychko is a great example of reading light with your camera. I love seeing the subject’s face in the foreground slowly revealed as he steps out of the shadows. We also see “Darth Vader” crossing our subject’s path as he steps into the same shadows. This is a great visual representation of crossing over into the dark side.

Finally, this image from Katrina S. stood out to me while I looked for great shadow-image examples. By using shadow puppets, Katrina has found an interesting way to use layers and storytelling to photograph shadows. Don’t be afraid to take this route as well and see what you can do with the use of shadow puppets.

When submitting to this assignment, images from your archive can work, but I really want to see some new images taken for this assignment. Get creative and dive into the shadows.

Matt Adams

Matt Adams

Senior Producer, Nat Geo Your Shot
Matt is a Senior Producer on the Your Shot team. He curates and produces the Daily Dozen gallery as well as monthly assignments. Before Nat Geo, Matt was a photography instructor and freelance photographer working for publications such as Wired, Spin, and Pittsburgh Magazine.