Chasing the Light and Finding the Shadows

Bill Murray in Ground Hog Day | ©Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
Like Bill Murray, who played an arrogant TV weatherman in the comedy movie Groundhog Day, Ailsa — the girl who misplaced her backpack — appears to be stuck in neutral, too, re-living the same lost-luggage dream over and over and over again, sans a furry rodent from the Keystone State. Anyway, she’s back at it this week with yet another travel-themed, shutterbug challenge. And, it’s straight out of the Punxsutawney playbook: SHADOWS.

Similar to Ailsa, Peter Pan had difficulty finding something he misplaced, too — his shadow. It’s the area where direct light from a source cannot reach due to obstruction by an object — in this case the autumn leaves-and-cobwebs clad Peter himself. Thankfully, Peter found his shadow — unlike Ailsa who is still searching for that damn backpack — and Wendy sewed it right back in place.

Shadows in the Snow | ©Stefano SacchieroChildren’s books aside, the shadow occupies all of the space behind an opaque object with light in front of it. The cross section of a shadow is a two-dimensional silhouette, or reverse projection of the object blocking the light — kinda like the proverbial deer in the headlights that’s standing still on a dark and lonely stretch of road and preventing your ride’s fancy-schmancy light-emitting diodes (LEDs) from doing their thing to the fullest.

Under natural light, the sun causes many objects to have shadows. And, at varying times of the day, when the sun is at different angles to the earth, the lengths of shadows change.

Many pro photographers will tell you that light, natural or manmade, is the single most important factor of the trade, and that we all need to master it if we ever hope to become proficient behind the lens.

Chasing the Light cover | ©Peachpit Publishing & New Riders PublishingRenowned Los Angeles-based photographer, writer, educator, filmmaker and podcaster Ibarionex Perello has authored a primer on the art of capturing light that every novice, journeyman and pro should read: Chasing the Light: Improving Your Photography with available Light. It’s on sale through Amazon.

This master craftsman shares his unique insights and perspective for joining forces with light to create vivid images. He does his very best to bridge the widening gap between the ever-changing technical side with the creative side. If you’re really serious about photography, give Perello’s take on light a serious look. I did.

Whether you’re focusing on people, wildlife, landscape or cityscape, the creative use of light and shadows is often the difference between a poorly thought out snapshot and a suitable-for-framing photograph.

Simply put, chase the light and you’ll find the shadows. Perhaps Peter Pan’s, too, if he misplaces it again. But, I can tell you right now, without a SHADOW of a doubt, that you will not find Ailsa’s backpack.

@The Palladian Traveler

@Tom Palladio Images

TPT Borsalino on Cobblestone | ©Tom Palladio Images



  1. Ironic that you should mention the movie Groundhog day today as I just watched that last night. I really liked the message the movie portrayed. You have a lifetime, chose what you do with it wisely. Yes, I told myself that I need to start chasing the light this year to improve my photography, but it’s hard as I love to sleep in!

  2. Brilliant thought about Peter Pan and his shadow. I can’t believe I had forgotten about it. You are indeed a clever writer. Your references astounds me.

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