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  • Betty Girardeau

The Magic of Shadows


I remember writing another blog post some time back about shadows in which I mentioned one of my favorite memorizations from my childhood, Robert Lewis Stevenson's "I have a little shadow that goes in and out with me...." I may have said in that post how much, as a photographer, I am drawn to shadows. They come in all sizes and shapes, and can be found easily on any sunny day, though not always in the form that would grab a photographer and his/her camera to capture it. Actually, as a child I thought shadows were fun, even something to play with. I was/am certainly not unique. If you just do a Google search with the word "shadows," you will come up with everything from the name of a rock group to computer games along with more scientific descriptions, and, on the stranger side, why some people with mental illness see and relate to shadows. When we look at real shadows and try to understand them, it is obvious that they are distortions of reality. And, I think that is what captures us into wanting to appreciate and relate to them. In the image above the actual object and its shadow at a specific point in time can be seen; shadows do evolve through time actually. Remember the expression, "He was only a shadow of himself?" Typically that has come to mean something or someone that has become weaker in physical or mental capacities or in power or authority. The image above certainly seems to illustrate that "lessening." But I don't think of a shadow as being less. I choose to consider a shadow as just another way of looking at life and our surroundings. In fact, maybe the best way of thinking about them is that they may be illustrative of everything having a multiple "personality." Nothing is ever what it seems, perhaps. Those distortions of the actual created by a shadow are captivating to those who like to look at and study them, like me. What is it about them that draws us in? I don't have the answer. I just know that I like them and love the sunny days when I can find them.

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