Light is what reveals form, color and texture. It can transform ordinary objects into something dramatic, exciting and full of life! Look for the presence of light and how it affects the subject. When there is light, you’ll also have shadows. In these shadows you’ll have the greatest possibilities for exciting color!
Often I see students reach for a tube of gray paint when they are describing shadows. What they don’t know is that shadows are where the most exciting color possibilities can be found. The illuminated area near an object reflects (bounces) light into the shadows which carries color with it. This is called reflected light.
To achieve a better understanding of shadows and reflected light, it can help to actually see it happen. Look at the photo of the still life; now look at the shadow directly beneath the object (arrow). In the cast shadow you will see color from the object.
Cast shadows will suggest the shape of the object that cast it. A cast shadow will have a distinct edge. The further a cast shadow is from the source, the more it is infiltrated by light and as a result becomes warmer, softer and paler.
Form shadows are delicate in appearance and important in making a subject appear three dimensional. The form shadow is lighter in value than the cast shadow. The form shadow has a softer or less defined edge to it than a cast shadow. This is because a form shadow isn’t created by a blocked light source, but by turning from the light source.