Find out how you can use common household items to create striking shadow art. These simple photography effects can be achieved by anyone and can be shot anywhere, using anything!
Get creative this weekend – all you need for this project is a lamp, a plain wall and a bottle. By deliberately using shadows as part of a composition you can give a unique feel to your still lifes.
Glass props work well for this project, as they give off interesting shadows under a strong light.
We set up our glass bottles on a table, placing a flower in one to give a stronger silhouette, and lit the scene from the side using an anglepoise lamp.
You can also use a flashgun as a light source, but you’ll need a cable or wireless trigger so that the flash can be placed away from the camera.
Another option is to set up your bottles behind paper or muslin and shoot through it – the shadows will fall softly against the surface.
How to photograph shadow art
01 Set it up
Set your props up in a dark room and place your light source to the side of the table. Now it’s just a case of playing with angles until your bottles cast a strong shadow on the wall behind them. Try overlapping shapes and colours, and mixing transparent props and opaque ones.
Put your camera on a tripod. This will allow you to use a low ISO, such as 100 or 200, and leave your hands free to adjust your props. Use a small aperture, such as f/11, to ensure everything stays sharp. If you’re struggling to give your shots an abstract feel, try changing the White Balance.
03 Get experimenting
Don’t stop at bottles – scout around the house and you’re sure to find a host of objects that will give you interesting silhouettes. Anything translucent works really well, or try shooting the shadows left by everyday items like a fork or a wedding ring to see what effects you can get.
The still life photographer’s guide to lighting: 4 techniques, 4 different effects
10 amazing still life photography ideas to try right now
Fine art photography: what you need to shoot amazing photo projects at home
13 awesome photography projects to try in 2013