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Chapter 15. Shadows > How to Think About Shadows

How to Think About Shadows

Lay your hand on top of the desk at which you are sitting (assuming you're not lounging on the sofa). Notice how dark the shadow below your hand appears. Now, slowly lift your hand above the surface and see what happens to the shadow. It should become lighter, and the edge should become softer. You might also notice that the shadow became larger—it's not always easy to see that happening, but it does. If there is more than one light source above your hand, you will most likely see multiple shadows. If you were to draw a line from one of the light sources to the middle of your hand, and then continue the line through your hand until it hit the desk, the line should be smack dab in the middle of the shadow.

But finding the light source in the real world is much easier than finding the light source in an image. If you can't see the light source in a photo (say there's no lamp or fiery sun), you can instead look at the part of the image that is darker than the rest. This will indicate from which direction the light was coming. Being aware of the source will really help you create natural-looking shadows.


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