Cast a Giant Shadow
I am drawn to contrast and I enjoy how harsh light can contrast with
dark shadows. I particularly love how this works in photography and how you control exposure to create the desired effect. For me there is somethig magical and creative about light, I feel that the caressing of light on a subject is what can make a photograph feel like a painting or art, rather than just a photocopy of an image. I guess this is where the expression painting with light comes from.
My dad introduced me to the technique of Chiaroscuro (light dark)
which was a style of painting used by Renaissance artists and an image that particularly sticks in my mind and one that captures this is Caravaggio’s Salome and the Head of John the Baptist. Caravaggio was a master of this technique – through this effect your eyes are guided to the light just like leading lines.
What I find incredible about this contrast is that you always look to
the light, the darkness sort of disappears and you just see the light.
Everything else becomes less or not important but the reality is that you need the darkness to see the light. Without one the other does not exist.
This theory translates to everything that surrounds us, there is no
Yin without the Yang, a positive has a negative. In Pythagorean philosophy, Aristotle created a table of opposites:
Limited / Unlimited
Odd / Even
Unity / Plurality
Right / Left
Male / Female
At Rest / In Motion
Light / Darkness
This is an idea of existing opposites which has been used in both
eastern and western philosophies, these opposites play an important role in how they translate to art and photography. Art is emotional and it’s the drama of opposites that creates feeling, movement and balance within a picture. Its a magical element of the composition which adds texture to otherwise a one dimensional image.
I was recently in the beautiful city of Bellinzona, Switzerland and I
was just about to exit a tunnel which lies under one of the castles that sits above the city. As I came out of the lift before me was the darkness of the tunnel, as my eyes adjusted they were guided to the end where the light was. It came radiating through and created an effect or illusion of what looked like a cross. I immediately felt excited by the drama and atmosphere of th contrast and found myself compelled to take out my tripod and camera and shoot some pictures. I set myself up, took a couple of shots and played around with the exposure trying to let the desired light into my camera scura. Then at the end of the tunnel a person entered and I new that was what I wanted. I needed a further shadow to add a mystical element to the photograph. Not quite a Caravaggio and more sci-fi- but the image spoke to me and I spent a good half hour having fun.
What an amazing and peaceful experience just clicking in the tunnel.
It was almost like a form of meditation, it’s just beautiful when you find yourself in a moment where you feel inspired. It’s Times like this that make me love taking photographs even more.
Post Scriptum : Having processed the pictures it occurred to me that I must have looked like such a …………. weirdo taking pictures in a dark tunnel, what was I thinking. Anyway I don’t live there and it’s done. The weirdo has left the building and Bellinzona is now a safe place to live!