Shadows – artworks under my feet.

Black-and-white photos capture shadows

Taking black-and-white pictures to express a diversity of emotions with shadows

Black-and-white pictures highlight the rough or soft textures of subjects. They express a subject only in black and white, with all colors absent, yet they can sometimes bring out its life more vividly. This may be why the tranquility of black-and-white photos is more appealing than the rich vibrancy of color photos.

Today, as a way of enjoying that peculiar appeal of tranquility, I’m going to introduce some of my black-and-white photos that take full advantage of shadows. Shadows are one of the great elements for black-and-white pictures. They are always there under our feet, day and night. Shadows may be familiar but, in black and white photos, they sometimes become the main character or serve as a great accessory to accentuate the main character.

Shadows are always ready to be photographed.

Is there any subject that is as familiar as shadows? Wherever there is light, there are also shadows. Unless it is completely dark, they are always there, never leaving my side. I can put them into whatever shape I like and set the shadows of objects or living things just the way I want in my pictures.

One of my favorite subjects for black-and-white photo shoots is tree shadows. Bright sunny days bring the silhouettes of a tree and leaves into clear view, while cloudy days cast a pale and soft shadow. Before I knew it, I had gotten into the habit of opening up Retrica and shooting tree shadows with a black and white filter as I walked along the street or stopped for a short rest in the shade.

<Inkwell filter applied>

You can also take distinct and delicate black-and-white pictures indoors as long as there is enough light. I took the photos shown below at a café that I visited lately. It had just stopped raining when I entered the café, so the shadows were pale. By the time I finished tea and was about to leave, the sun was high and bright in the sky, casting clear-cut shadows over the table decorated with small artifacts on it at the entrance of the café.

<Left – Black & White filter applied, right – no filter used>

I shot the same spot again in color, but the two pictures produce quite different vibes. The color photo gives a feel of abundance as it is full of many different colors, but it is a little distracting. Meanwhile, the black-and-white photo emphasizes the silhouettes of the shadows, creating a more urban and fresher feel. This is one of the merits that make me choose a black-and-white filter without hesitation, when I want to make shadows stand out.

Shadows create a mysterious feel for people photos.

In Retrica’s Inspiration, you can easily find black-and-white photos where shadows are cleverly used. Shadows help you take attractive pictures particularly when you take people photos, because you can create an ambience that is both natural and mysterious.

In the picture posted by @sonyrx100_bw, a cute little girl is posing for the camera, with a pale tree shadow cast in front of her over the steps. Without the tree and other shadows, the picture would have appeared unrealistic. With just the right amount of shadow captured, however, it delivers the real and vivid feel of the day – the weather and the place included.

On the other hand, User @vneo714 posted a bold selfie with a shadow cast over her face. Could there be any other selfies as original and mysterious as this? This is a fantastic black-and-white photograph that I would really love to try for myself on a day when there is enough light and a window frame nearby.

Brilliant ways of using shadows in photo-taking

The tone of a black-and-white picture is determined by black, white, and the concentration of light, and a shadow can be a witty prop or decoration as it is, without much choreography.

This picture of a seagull taken by @error2k18 on the beach comes across as very interesting thanks to the chunky shadow of the bird. If you arrange the shadow of a tree or animal around in an appropriate composition for a landscape photo, your photo will definitely come out vividly.

The shadow of the dog jumping in the air in the picture by @andyrm98 is also captivating. The shadows of the dog and the man playing together strike me as very dynamic. The way the dog’s tail stretches straight out in the shadow is really cute. When you are out walking your companion animals or on a picnic with them, using a black-and-white filter is a good way of leaving such vivid and impressive pictures. It is not just for your time with companion animals. Retrica’s black-and-white filters are also great for capturing moments of playing sports outdoors, such as badminton or basketball.

The last photo that I want to introduce to you has one subject, but it reveals that there are actually two persons in the scene. In this black-and-white photo by @iris_prg, you can find the shadows of two persons behind the subject of the photo – one being photographed and the other taking the photograph. This photo was seemingly meant to photograph one person but captured two people who wanted to share the moment together. The end product is filled with pleasant warmth. This is the kind of picture I would love to take on a date or trip.

Why not try taking black-and-white pictures in which you make the most of shadows, as shown in the photos above? This method will certainly enhance the delicacy and expressiveness of emotions in the pictures several times over. Furthermore, shadows are not props that I have to carry around with me; they are always there, clinging to me all the time. I hope that a bigger variety of black-and-white photos using shadows will continue to be posted in Inspiration!

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