Series of ornate arches with trees beyond
Architecture,  Lens-Artists,  Photographic techniques,  Sunday Stills,  Themed galleries

Gallery: looking out from the shadows

In photography, there are no shadows that cannot be illuminated

August Sander

Who hasn’t explored a building, maybe an impressive fortress or palace, and had one of those ‘wow’ moments as you emerge from the darkness of the building to an arch or window revealing the lightness outside?

I’ve talked recently about the compositional possibilities of framing in photography. In recent years I have become attracted to the specific framing possibilities offered by arches and openings in various buildings I have been privileged to visit around the world. Through these features we can look from a place of relative darkness into the light beyond. Or maybe the opening will let the light spill into our space, inviting us out? I like the drama of shadows contrasting with these lighter places; so much so that I’ve been known to boost the contrast when editing, or perhaps add a vignette to darken the outer edges of the image.

So (belatedly) for Terri’s Sunday Stills ‘Emerging’ theme, and for Patti’s Lens Artists ‘Light and Shadow’ theme, I’d like to share some favourite shots, taken in that style.

Tall archway with man sitting on a wall beyond

Looking out through Hathi Pol (the Elephant Gate) of Bundi Palace; I was lucky to spot this local man enjoying the early morning light. In editing I darkened the shadows further to create this silhouette.

Marble doorway looking out on to a terrace

This is the view Shah Jahan would have had from his private palace, the Khas Mahal, at Agra Fort.

View through a series of dark doorways to a small tower caught in sunlight

Looking out from the Diwan-i-Am (Hall of Public Audience) in Amber Fort near Jaipur, Rajasthan.

View of houses below a scallop-edged window

The view of Udaipur from a window in the City Palace.

Looking through an arch to a large courtyard

A view of the central courtyard of the Kalon Mosque in Bukhara, taken from the entrance; this is the largest mosque in Uzbekistan.

Looking through an arch to a large courtyard

Another view of the courtyard of the Kalon Mosque; the central octagonal pavilion is a 19th century addition designed to improve the acoustics and amplify the voice of the Imam as he delivers his Friday sermon.

Arch with more arches beyond, dome and blue sky

A much more modern mosque, the Grand Mosque in Salalah, Oman.

Carved wooden arch with man in blue robes beyond

Our guide waits for us in the next room of the ruins of Telouet, in the Atlas Mountains of Morocco.

Wooden shutters opening on to courtyard with carved stone walls

Inside the atmospheric Medersa Ali Bin Youssef in Marrakesh, a former Koranic school offering a rare opportunity to see inside a traditional religious building (mosques and active medersas being off-limits).

Arch with stained glass and garden beyond

In the Palais de la Bahia, Marrakesh, looking out at one of the leafy courtyards from the part known as the small riad (small being a relative term!)

Carved stone arch leading to paved courtyard with trees

Still in Marrakesh, this is another leafy courtyard in the Musee Dar Si Said, its vivid greens glowing as you emerge from the dimmer interior on a hot day.

Looking through an arch to a garden with fountains

Looking out at the gardens of the Palazzo Pfanner in Lucca on a dull rainy day; you can see two people walking on the city walls beyond the garden.

Small silhouetted statues with a river behind

A very different view, looking out at the Mekong River from the Pak Ou Caves in Laos.

Stone statue with gold robe catching the sunlight

Here a shaft of sunlight falls on a Buddha statue in Angkor Wat, Cambodia, hinting at the light outside.


And to finish, a quotation that is very apposite for our times:

Hope is being able to see that there is light despite all of the darkness.

Desmond Tutu


Do share your thoughts, I'd love to hear from you!