2014 Challenge, Week 31 Nature & Wildlife – SHADOWS

One of the least practiced forms of Nature and Wildlife Photography may very well be SHADOWS. Nature can be so pretty in itself, full of colors and textures that we often fail to notice the SHADOWS it casts.

20100213 - IMG_6941One of the most classic examples may very well be the insect SHADOW visible through the translucency of a leaf. An advantage of this technique is that it works particularly well at mid-day. This is when the light from the Sun is generally to harsh for regular nature and wildlife photography.

Spider LeafIt doesn’t necessarily have to be through the leaf. Nothing seems to give the heebie-jeebies like the SHADOW of a spider. You don’t have to include the actual subject. However it’s always nice to find a way to compose your image with the subject and the SHADOW.

Hoenderloo ForrestWant BIG SHADOWS, trees will cast BIG SHADOWS. It can be the full SHADOW of a single tree or an entire forest. Naturally the lower the position of the Sun in the sky, the longer those SHADOWS will stretch.

In the strong sunshineFlowers and plants will cast shadows as well. This lily Pad is a great example with the flower casting a shadow on it’s own leaf.  An other composition that works better around mid-day.

Shadow on Flower BedDon’t forget, photographers cast SHADOWS to. You may or may not want your own SHADOW as part of your image composition.

TO CONTROL SHADOWS: In nature the Sun is your source of light. As it travels through the sky, its angle relative to subjects on the ground will change. This in effect will cast a different shadow at a different time of day. The earlier in the day, the more stretched out to the West your SHADOW will be. The later in the day, the more stretched your SHADOW will be to the East. The Sun rises in the East and sets in the West. A mid-day summer Sun however will cast a shadow directly under your subject. Hope this helps you plan your Challenge a little better.

Remember to respect nature and not to disturb any animals or destroy their habitat in any way during your quest for the perfect image. Also take time to familiarize yourself with local wildlife and plants. Some animals can present a danger, especially if protecting their young. Spiders and Snakes, especially hard to see baby snakes can present a great danger due to their venom. It’s always better to keep a safe distance from any wild animal no matter how sweet and innocent it may seem. Animals should not be fed. Feeding animals often encourages them to approach humans, increasing the risk of injury from individuals who may appreciate them less than you might. Most animals in rescue centers get there due to an encounter with humans.

Get acquainted with plants like Poisson Oak and Poisson Ivy or any other dangerous plants in your area. Some plants not only represent a risk of skin irritation but can also kill you if touched or ingested. Learn to identify the dangerous plants in your area.

The sky’s the limit for this week’s challenge. Get out there and show us what Mother Nature has to offer you! Nature and Wildlife photography can be a great family activity

As this is Nature and wildlife, try to keep human objects such as houses, bridges and fences out of your images as much as possible. There’s often a way to compose an image to give the illusion of complete nature without using Photoshop.

The rules are pretty simple:

  • Post one original (Your Image) shot each week per theme posted on this blog to Google+Facebook, or Flickr (or all three). Tag the photo #photochallenge.org. or #photochallenge2014.
  • The shot should be a new shot you took for the current weekly theme, not something from your back catalog or someone else’s image.
  • Don’t leave home without your camera. Participating in the 2014 Photo Challenge is fun and easy.

About Steve Troletti

I'm a Location Scout, Editorial, Nature, Wildlife and Environmental Photographer based in Malibu, California. I specialize in Nature and Urban Nature photography including Infrared Landscapes. The Bulk of my work takes place in the Los Angeles, California area, Greater Montreal Region, Canada, Switzerland, France and Varese in Northern Italy. Ethical wildlife photography is the main priority and focus of my work. A minimum disturbance of the animals, their habitat and the environment is my top priority. This applies as much to total wilderness areas as it does to urban nature environments. Ongoing education of environmental issues and building awareness for the protection of wildlife and wilderness areas around the world is what drives me to document the beauty that surrounds us.