Supplies for Heart-Shaped ShadowsThe supplies for casting and capturing heart-shaped shadows are quite simple: a larger-sized book with a lot of pages (large paperbacks are often more flexible) and a circle to cast the heart-shaped shadow. You can use any circular, see-through object to cast the shadows. Rings are popular choices, for their shape and romantic connotations. You can also use a variety of camera accessories that you might already have lying around. All of the heart-shaped shadows in this article were created with either a single extension tube or colored filters.
Technique and Timing for Heart-Shaped ShadowsThe trick behind creating the heart-shaped shadow is shooting near a bright window in the early morning or late afternoon. You want direct light from the sun to create the strongest shadows, and the lower the sun is in the sky, the longer and more prominent the shadow. Right now, if you live in the Northern Hemisphere, a south-facing window is ideal, as the sun is farther south in the sky and casts long shadows during much of the day. Consider also shooting near a glass sliding door or other large window without panes, so you can avoid having window-pane shadows cluttering up your image.
Secret tip: you may need a little help getting your circle to stay upright in your book. The extension tube I used was wide enough that it could generally stand up and stay by itself without assistance, but the colored filters were much smaller and had a tendency to immediately fall over. I used tiny pieces of a product called Mini-Hold, a wax adhesive created to hold dollhouse furniture and accessories in place without leaving residue. Two tiny dots where the filter touched the book were enough to hold the filter upright and not be visible in the final photograph.
Strategies and RemindersSpend some time thinking about which book and which pages you might want to use for this type of shot. Depending on your angle and aperture, it may be possible to emphasize certain words or phrases in or around the shadow. (This is particularly easy when using a ring to cast shadows, as the smaller heart draws more attention to fewer words.)
No need to limit yourself to just one shadow, either! Have fun combining multiples and see what kinds of effects you can create!
Bonus: Book-Heart Valentines' Day IdeaAnd, since you already have your camera and a large, floppy book out, why not try creating a heart-shaped book too? A large, paperback book works well, as you have lots of pages to work with. The trick here is finding the angle and heart-shape you want and then using a paperclip or small binder clip in the back to hold the heart-shape in place.
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