I am the president of my High School photography club and I’m taking Photograhy II, our school’s most advanced photography class. For our final project, we were assigned to make a portfolio. The rubric specified that the each of our portfolio’s must have a specific them. For my theme I chose “All around town”, taking photos of various locations around my town. But my teacher said that theme wasn’t specific or unique enough, so I further stipulated that all the photos would be taken at night or in the very late evening and that they would all be rendered in grays scale. My teacher said no one had ever chosen such a theme before and he was eager to see my results. I also had to clear it with my parents, but they also agreed to it.
The next step was to plan locations. Since these photos were to be taken at night, I had to request permission from a few property owners and local agencies. I set out at around 5:00PM. It was a cold December evening, so I immediately returned home to put on some more layers before heading out again. It was a beautiful night. Everything was covered in snow, and a full moon and all the stars were shining, making it one of those nights that somehow looks almost like daytime and nighttime simultaneously. One of those nights that is so serene and peaceful that you dread sunrise. The only thing I would have changed would be the wind, which would be sure to be a source of annoyance when trying to photograph trees. But at least all the light from the moon, stars, and reflections off the snow would make for good quality.
I started at my high school parking lot and snapped a few photos of the school. I went through the town, photographing at the parish, the cemetery, the lake, city hall, the park, and a few abandoned locations. I even got a photo of an owl that was perched in one of the leafless trees.
It was a Saturday night, and it would be two days before I could use the school darkroom to develop my photos. But due to my lifelong enthusiasm for photography, my parents let me have my own studio/darkroom in our house a few years ago. I was tired when I returned home so I went to bed. But I had this bizarre feeling of uneasiness that prevented me from falling asleep. To combat the restlessness I decided to go to my darkroom to develop my portfolio. While waiting for the pictures to develop, I went back to bed and finally managed to get a couple hours of sleep. When I woke up it was about an hour before sunrise. I went back to the darkroom to check on my photos. I began organizing them and deciding which ones I wanted to include in the portfolio. While I was doing this I noticed something.
In all of the photos taken at ground level (so not including the one I took of the owl high up in a tree, for example), there was a long shadow. In some photos it was beside mine, in others it stood alone. Now I am well aware that sometimes one’s own shadow is split into two depending on the lighting situation, but after years of practicing photography I have become well versed in the effects of all kinds of lighting and lighting angles, and I have learned what lighting should produce what kind of shadow. Not only was this strange shadow in places where it should not have been, but in every photo it was much taller than it should have been in proportion to my own height given the lighting. But the thing that made me certain that the shadow was not my own, was that in every photo it appeared to be…pointing. And in the photos in which it occurred next to my own shadow, it appeared to be pointing at it.
A got an “A+” on my portfolio. My teacher made no comment on the strange shadow.