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Trippin' on LSD - Light, Shadow and Dust

There was a quote I had read that stayed with me.

The eye is always caught by light, but the shadows have more to say ‘ ( I just looked it up, the author Gregory Maguire said it ).


Its true, isn’t it ?

Shadows create a fascinating mixture of intrigue and mystery that always draws me to them. This image that I had made last year has long been one close to my heart. In my mind, it captures the stealth, the wariness that defines a leopard. And, its the shadows that brings the attention to the eye of the cat, the shadows that suggest the hushed spots of the leopard...yeah, the shadows do tell a heck of a lot.

The shadows are everything in this me, they do the job of defining the leopard


These days, I find myself observing the play of shadows while watching movies or any of the innumerable web series that one gets hooked on to, and at the back of my mind a parallel train of thought will be running on looking for lessons from the way the lighting has been done, asking myself where the light source would have been placed, noting the mood the lighting is helping create ( Daniel Day Lewis' brilliance notwithstanding, I can watch Lincoln any number of times only to marvel at the way light is kneaded and cajoled by the cinematographer to tell a deeper story ).


If you browse through the Old Masters' paintings you can’t, but marvel, at the awe and reverence with which they treated light, and the care they took to get light and the shadows it throws absolutely right. They just got light !


If light and shadows make your breath stop…pause…and... add dust to this mix.




If light and shadow can throw strong hints of impending action, throw dust in the mix and you get a strong sense of action that is actually happening.

Mix it well with the other two and you get an even more heightened sense of mood, drama.


But not all images need be dark and brooding.


Light, shadow and dust are like all the ingredients that are added to your plate of bhel puri at your favourite roadside eatery. You can play with it in multiple ways to get just that right flavour that touches your soul, as you savour the dish…slow down the shutter speed, increase the exposure, reduce it, play with the White Balance…


My last trip to Kenya had this simple goal, to sip from the heady cocktail of light, shadow and dust.


Here are some images.

Do they make you pause ?

The shadows and the dust brings in a sense of stoicism,

a heroism to the wildebeest, an animal not usually associated with that 

Slowing down the shutter speed here brings the dry, water starved land also into the picture

Lack of shadows and dust also paint a picture...a slow shutter speed gets rid of them

and adds a dreamy feel to these running zebras


Is it the skies that catch your eye, or the tree rising like a wraith or the dust...or all of it together ?

Dust makes all the difference to an ordinary scene of two zebras walking...or is it the light?

A protective mother...shadows help convey the tension she feels

Doesn't that puff of dust caused by the sudden movement add so much to this scene ?

This was our favourite place...only for the dust that even a mere thought of movement raises

One of my favourite images from the everyday, ordinary scene...

the light, the dust make all the difference

What do you feel about playing more with light, shadows and dust in your images ?

Cheers !


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댓글 2개

Ajay Kumar
Ajay Kumar
1월 29일

Have always been fascinated with cinematography, the play with light and shadows. Especially in b&w movies, not that color movie cinematographers don't use it well. Dust has had its own place there too, especially in rural scenes and actions scenes. Lovely piece Ashok ! And great pics.

Ashok Nair
Ashok Nair
1월 30일
답글 상대:

Thanks Ajay...yeah light is fascinating....check out the way the Masters have done it in their paintings too's brilliant !

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