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Old Mar 22, 2015, 7:45 PM   #1
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Default Shadows Defining Shapes

Photography is a 2 dimension world that tries (or tries not) to define 3 dimensional objects. Shadows and light help to do that realistically. Here are 3 examples of the same tower that demonstrate this principle. They were all taken on a week-long trip to Flagstaff in December 2012, and are all of the watchtower, at the east entrance to the Grand Canyon National Park.

You almost instantly know that this is a cylindrical tower from this picture, with clearly defined shadows.



Here's another view, with far less shadow. There's still enough to feel that the tower is a 3 dimensional object, but there's less cues for the mind to interpret.



Finally, this last picture was taken a couple of days later. It was snowing pretty hard (there had been no snow on the ground when we went to bed the night before). I wanted to see the Grand Canyon in snow, but it was pretty socked in, I couldn't see much through the clouds. The light was very flat. This picture is pretty much straight out of the camera, and I was amazed when I first saw it - it looks like a flat cut-out or something. No feeling that this is a round object, you could be looking at the flat side of a building.



So shadows are very important to photography. I take them for granted or else grumble that my scene has too much dynamic range far more than I should. Instead of grumbling, I should be discovering ways to make shadows work for me.
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Old Mar 22, 2015, 8:39 PM   #2
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Excellent lesson
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Old Mar 23, 2015, 4:32 PM   #3
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Wonderful trio of a subject.
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Old Mar 23, 2015, 7:17 PM   #4
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I agree. Great presentation.
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Old Mar 23, 2015, 9:23 PM   #5
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Thank you all. This trio of photos really brought home the importance of good light and what flat light does to a scene. I can read such things in books all I want, but until I actually experience it, I usually don't quite understand it. This was one of those "ah-ha!" moments for me.

One of the things I love about photography is that it's a lifelong learning experience for me (and yes, there are times when I have to re-learn something I've forgotten!).
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Old Mar 24, 2015, 7:57 AM   #6
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Thanks for sharpening the eye!
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