Shadows will destroy many pictures before you learn to see them. Human perceptive organs are so good at editing the shadows out of our everyday world that we are often shocked to notice them marring our images after the shooting is over. With time, photographers naturally adapt, taking shadow detail into consideration whenever composing.

This exercise is designed to hasten the development of that sensitivity by having you look specifically for usable shadows in your picture-making efforts. Becoming aware of and editing out unwanted shadows will eventually become second nature. Head out into the community and observe how shadows fit into the landscape. Look for opportunities to enhance your photos by selectively including elements of shadow.

Early morning and late evening shadows are often enhanced by elongation and the attractive colours associated with the rising and setting of the sun. Midday shadows are often short, stubby and more challenging to work with.

 lesson23 1

Throngs of onlookers cluttering up the background hampered efforts to shoot Vancouver's Celtic Festival. Shifting paradigms, I sought other ways to capture the spirit of a Celtic dancer. Here, shadow and silhouette are used to eliminate all complex detail in both subject and background, creating a simple and highly graphic expression.

 lesson23 2

I love racing the shadow of my bicycle and have often thought about photographing it when out for a burn. Though I haven't succeeded, this is one of my best efforts to date. Surprisingly dangerous at high speeds, I've concluded that I really need to develop a special harness to get the shot.

 lesson23 3

When I noticed this shadow I quickly grabbed my camera, knowing that this would be the last photo of my pal of 16 years, Neko, who was scheduled for euthanization the next day. His waning health and imminent demise were very much at the forefront of my mind and the shadows seemed to speak eloquently, as did the sparkle in his eye.

 lesson23 4

A gap in the shadows of a tall bamboo hedge work well to light this aged supplicant from the side as she struggles up a slope at Kyoto's Tofukuji Temple complex. Shadows provide a contrasting backdrop that effectively eliminates distracting detail from the entire scene.

All photographs were taken by Brian Grover.

The End