Weekly Photo Challenge: “Contrast”

Shadow Man

I was instantly impressed with the way the circumstances naturally loaned themselves to the creation of a genuine chiaroscuro image without setting up artificial lighting for the scene. Such things make street photography seem magical.


24 thoughts on “Weekly Photo Challenge: “Contrast”

    • Many do. Is it the notion of potentially violating the “reasonable expectation of privacy” of strangers in public places? I totally understand. For that reason alone it is a difficult genre to work with.

      As I said to onelifethislife back in February, every photography form, genre and subgenre has risks and ethical concerns. That’s no embellishment.

      If you make baby portraits and wedding portraits, some will say that you’re playing it too safe and not really pushing yourself as an artist. If you do fine art nudes, others will say that you’re a dirty-minded pornographer. If you do photojournalism, there is a group that will accuse you of either exploiting people’s suffering or wasting time trying to bring the plight of one faction to the attention of another that could help because the latter faction really could care less. If you shoot landscapes there are actually people who will say they’ve “seen it all before”. Would you photograph wild animals? Some will assume that you will invade their natural habitats, compromise their routines and stress them out. Others will suspect you of being a radical tree-hugging activist that places the welfare of animals above human lives. What about zoo animals? Well, you’ll be guilty of promoting the immoral confinement of wildlife even though their freedom will expose them to pollution and poaching.

      You’ll never please everyone, that’s a guarantee. For whatever type of photography you do, you have to decide for yourself what is ethical and artistic, and what isn’t, and hope that you do no harm; unless that is your intent.

  1. My eyes couldn’t stop exploring … wandering over this image. It grabbed me. You definitely caught a magical moment and thanks for sharing.

    • It was less than a month away from Halloween, and rolling up on this guy at Dundas’ University Shopping Plaza, after hours, brought a creepy but happy adolescent memory to mind.

      The original television series The Twilight Zone was well off the air by the time I was born. I was lucky as a kid to see a few reruns because my family didn’t have cable. I’ll be forever impressed with Rod Serling’s intellectual yet too cool for school way of delivering monologues to set up the short stories. In my mind, that anthology series still has the top format for presenting speculative fiction on the small screen.

      Back in the eighties, I was really excited to hear that the series was being reincarnated for the first time. For me, the most memorable episode from that revival is “The Shadow Man”.

      In the show, a nerdy and timid kid–I can’t remember any of the characters’ names, is picked on by a bully at school. The boy, probably in the same age range as I was when the episode aired (14 or 15-years old), reasonably, detests the bully.

      One night, after being ordered by his mother to sleep with his lights off, a phantom forces his way out from beneath the terrified boy’s bed. The spectre is a tall and completely featureless silhouette of a man wearing a long cloak or trench coat and a cowboy or similarly broad brimmed hat. In a deep menacing voice, the entity identifies himself as the shadow man, and declares that he’ll never harm the person under whose bed he lives. The creature silently and slowly leaves the boy’s house with a steady glide that doesn’t even betray any kind of a gait. By this time, watching the show, I was thinking this was so awesome!

      The next day, there are reports of children being violently attacked in the night by a shadowy figure. The boy tells his friend about the shadow man living under his bed but, of course, he isn’t believed. Each night, the shadow man emerges to go terrorizing the children of the neighbourhood, each time assuring that he’ll never harm the boy whose bed he lives under. On one night, the boy aims to confront his friend with proof, and tries to photograph the creature in his darkened bedroom but his flash fails to strobe. I’ve been there.

      Long story short; the boy is able to gain popularity at school, and his newfound self-confidence gives way to nonchalance, smugness, conceit and a vengeful will. His friend, even starts to believe his claims of the supernatural shadow man being the stalker of the neighbourhood but now the boy is dismissive of his friend’s concern. The boy challenges his bully to meet him one night for a fight and the bully naturally accepts the invitation. Predictably, the central character’s plan is to fiendishly use the shadow man to dispose of his tormentor. The boy is becoming a bully, the type of individual he once despised.

      When the evening darkness falls and the original bully shows up at a playground to scrap, so does the shadow man. The bully turns tail and runs on first sight but the euphoric boy remains. Suddenly, the shadow man puts his hands around the boy’s throat and begins to squeeze.

      Yes, a boy being assaulted on TV; it was a pretty extreme show back in the eighties. It wasn’t any worse, mind you, than the much older and similar traditional horror stories I grew up with. The bogeyman tales of Scotland regularly feature kids being attacked by a malevolent entity, and Hansel and Gretel features a chid-eating witch of Germany’s Black Forest. These are great centuries old stories to tell small children in school, and just before their bedtimes.

      Still able to speak, the stunned boy asks why the shadow man is choking him. The shadow man cooly tells the boy that he is a shadow man from under someone else’s bed. Fade to black.

      I love that show. Kids in my highschool talked about that specific episode for years afterward. The short story is good enough to be a classic urban myth, and just seeing this silhouetted man one evening in Dundas reminded me of that program. The man waiting for a cab is probably a harmless Hamiltonian but he looked so mysterious there, loitering outside all of the closed stores, that I just had to capture this chilling moment. I’d regret it if I didn’t.

  2. Great Image, well captured…I too love street photography, especially Black and White, its the thought of seeing and capturing something new, different, captivating and interesting then sharing it with friends:)

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