How to create crisp shadows and use then with nude models

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To create a good shadow of your model on a wall you need to get the main light as far from the model as possible and keep the light source as small as possible.

The further the light source from the model the crisper the shadow will be - technically it will have a "narrow transition" - the transition is the penumbra between the light and dark areas.

You obviously don't want to use a softbox as this will give a dispersed light which will ruin the effect of the shadow. In this shoot I have used a snoot - this is a short tube which gives a pseudo-spotlight effect.

This not only provides a very small source of light, but also gives a nice natural shadow vignette to the images.

You need to choose your camera angle and poses so that the live model and her shadow are not merged together, confused or overlapped.

Typically you are looking for echoes of the models pose in the shadow, but the shadow may introduce new shapes of their own.

In most of these I am shooting so that we can largely see the front of our model, but the shadow created is a profile.

In the first image we have a classic example of the echo pose, the shape of the live model and the shadow are very similar. In this case I have allowed them to overlap because I like the way the model appears to be holding the arm of her shadow.

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In the second picture I have asked Kirsty to touch her own shadow on the wall. This is a simple but effective way of creating a link between the two and almost making the shadow another person.

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Notice how in this image there are two completely different shapes and poses. Kirsty is facing the camera in a very contemporary pose - very direct. Meanwhile the shadow is turned away, almost ignoring the camera.

In particular look at how the shadow of the arm has been used to create a frame around the bust, this has created a body profile shot in the shadow.


key points

Move the camera position to stop the model and her shadow from overlapping.

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