While I have been following the weekly photo challenge it has probably not escaped your attention that my initial response is usually a rather literal one to the word itself before launching into a story associated with a photo from my files and albums accumulated over years of snapping shots; with a final paragraph that can only have come from a leap of logic obvious only to me.

This week is no exception.  The word is ‘Shadow’, an intriguing word with a number of shades of meaning.  There is the silhouette cast on the ground when the sun is shining, but there is also the gloom of a dark corner or a dim outline only distantly visible.  It could be ghostly spectre in a nightmare, or a constant companion or alter ego, or the dark smudges below a loved one’s eyes.

It’s a verb too; The Shadow, the pulp 1930s private detective could tail, stalk or pursue his prey to observe them.  And the artist could darken certain areas of his canvas to suggest the source of light.

But as soon as I read the list of synonyms a photo came immediately to mind. 

It was meant to be a self timer self portrait.  I took a holiday in Venice on my own, in between jobs about 20 years ago.  It was October, but the weather was warm and sunny, and I was a diligent follower of the Blue Guide to the city.

My favourite occupation though was to find a comfortable vantage point from which to observe the various tableaux vivants offered in piazzas and on the edge of the lagoon.  I frequently set up my camera on the edges of tables and bridges to take a self timer shot.  Many are typical ‘tourist in front of something famous to prove I was there’ shots; some aren’t that bad.

I remember trying to set this up; I couldn’t see behind the camera lens to position the camera properly so I had to guess.  That’s my elbow and the side of my leg in the far right of the shot.  I don’t know why the shadows on the floor are so kinked, as the pillars look straight.  But I like the image, and since then, have tended to avoid featuring in photos myself.

When I was scanning and examining the photo it reminded me of a much more recent one; something about the colours and the elongated shape of the shadows…..

This was taken in the Sahara in Niger.  The sun was low in the afternoon sky and the camels were on the side of a dune, lengthening the images on the sand even more than usual.

It’s almost a cliché of the desert, but it was remarkable to see it for real.  I recall to get the photo I had to drop back from the caravan, and then as soon as I’d taken it run down the dune to catch up so as not get left behind; although the camels moved slowly they were relentless.  So long as they were attached to the one in front they kept moving with the regularity of a metronome.

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  1. Rowena,

    Arty creature, intchoo? Kudos. It’s hard to keep art in your life with everything else required to survive.

    One question comes to mind. How secure do you feel, making the assumption that you carry round a DSLR? Leaving it up in the desert on a tripod while doing an SP on timer?

    While I have a Canon 5D11 plus lenses and change, I’ve just about quit using it for fear of it getting nicked, the dislike of folks to be photographed on the streets of London, and here in Atlanta.

    I’ve turned into a snapper now with a Canon S95, which goes in yer pocket.


    • I’ve never had anything better than a happy snappy camera. Both of the Shadow images were in fact scanned prints taken on 35mm – one on a Nikon SLR circa 1981, and the other on a compact Samsung. I got my first digital camera about 5 years ago but it’s a compact Canon Ixus which goes in my pocket. I’m interested in the framing of the shot rather than messing about with exposures and lighting etc – but I’m happy to think you mistook the results!


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