Saturday, June 29, 2013

Beyond a Shadow of a Doubt

To contemplate is to look at shadows.  Victor Hugo

Until I took up photography as a hobby, I had not given much thought to shadows for decades.  Kids in particular are fascinated with shadows, and I began remembering my own experiences with shadows as a child.  When I contemplate shadows now, I remember the room where I grew up, which was on the southwest corner of the house. There were windows on both walls, so I grew up with a lot of afternoon light streaming through my blinds.  I can still remember the way the blinds created shadows on the walls, and, in particular I remember the way those shadows changed when summer turned to fall.  I could almost mark the days until school started like a sundial could mark hours.  Of course, ancient peoples studied science,  universal laws, and seasonal changes by measuring the length of shadows.  

Another experience with shadows was the finger shadows that we made on the home movie screen that we had.  That was much more entertaining than watching the home movies of vacations that my Dad made.

So, this week I was using the front porch of the Tennessee River double wide we have as a "blind", just watching for birds, getting a bit bored, and I noticed the shadows of some leaves on the trees.  The shadow had a "French bow" appearance, even though the leaves were about the same size.  Here it is:


It was not a remarkable photograph, but it did start me thinking about shadows again.  I started pondering not only about the role of shadows in photographs, but the use of the word shadow in our language, and even the metaphysical reasons for having the concept of shadows at all.  Let's see, we have the shadow government, the shadow banking system, beyond a shadow of a doubt, "shadows" that are people who attend class with autistic kids, or follow people around for other various reasons, etc.  And, of course their are lunar eclipses, when the earth casts its shadow on the moon.  This takes on importance in literature, such as in The Return of the Native but Thomas Hardy.  The word shadow sometimes takes on ominous and mysterious tones, as in  "shadowy characters".  So even though we may no longer dance with our shadows as we do when we were children, or make finger rabbits on screens, we are never far away from the concept of shadows.   

While happening upon the French bow shadow was inadvertent, there have been many times when I have purposefully tried to incorporate shadows into photography.  Some examples follow.  Unsurprisingly a lot of these photos are of my grandson.  Perhaps this will motivate some people to begin contemplating shadows when they pick up their cameras. None of these are lunar eclipse photos, but maybe some day...........

My grandson having fun with his shadow..........

Although inadvertent, this reminds me of those shadow puppets!

I like the way the shadow of the tree angles at the roofline.
Holding Hands

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