In Praise of Shadows

FTLComm - Tisdale - Friday, November 2, 2001

In every art class the instructor will emphasize the importance of recording the "negative space" that area in a picture where the absence of light is the main issue rather than what the light is reflecting off and seen by the eye. The "Dutch Masters" became utterly consumed by this concept and produced some remarkable work paying very close attention to darkness rather than light.

This morning I set out to get an image that would tell the visitor to this web site something about what it is like in Tisdale today. Well, as so often happens one image leads to another and another as the shadows this morning seemed to have a special clarity.

I had just checked the rain gauge (less than 1/10th) and gingerly stepped on the deck as it was covered in a slick invisible coating of ice. The shadow of the front tire of the bicycle caught my eye as you see it above, well that is the camera's attempt to capture the image, but essentially that is what I saw and that lead me to move around and just capture the texture and feel of the shadow seen below.

Of course it is obvious to even a three year old that shadows are optical illusions as our eyes emphasize or de-emphasize the contrast and our minds work overtime attempting to construct the line and shapes that create these dark areas in what we see.

This example shows a few trees as they paint a pattern on the house and fall lawn. The shadows tell about the trees that cast those shadows and tell us the angle of the sun and even let us in on the season of the year because only in fall would that angle at that time be there without the remnants of the winter's snow still be on the ground, for in spring this same angle will re-occur.

It is the shadows that reveal reality, without them in a picture the objects are flat and perhaps far less interesting. The dramatic picture below and at the top of the page show the shadows painted across the ground and blocking the sun, they involve us in the image and help us share that moment with the viewer.

Timothy W. Shire