Shadow Selfie

Shadow Selfie, U.S. Highway 50, Lincoln Highway, Loneliest Road in America, East of Eureka, Nevada, USA

I have to admit there are an overabundance of road pics in my catalogue, photographs in which various streets, highways, byways and gravel tracks from my travels serve as the primary subject of a landscape. Mind you, I’m not apologizing for that.  We photograph and write about what we know and love, and I love few things more than being behind the wheel of a car (or pedaling a bicycle) through unknown country. Over 40+ years of driving and cycling I’ve amassed several hundreds of thousands of miles wheeling on just about every road surface imaginable.

Safe to say, I know roads.

Sometimes I put my conveyance in the photograph too, but only rarely do I put myself in, and more often than not, it’s as a reflection or a shadow. I just don’t think I’m much of an interesting subject. Nor do I need to document the fact I’ve been somewhere by showing myself actually there. I took the photo. I was there.

More often than not, if my shadow is in the frame it’s because I just couldn’t avoid it. Like with this one, taken on one of the most remote sections of a remote highway through the sparse Nevada desert. I loved the tones of light the late afternoon sun was casting on the landscape and highway, so pulled over and grabbed the Fujifilm X-T2 body, which had the fisheye on it, from the passenger seat.

I like to get a slightly higher vantage for landscapes, especially with a very wide lens, so opened the door and put one foot on the running board and the other on the door’s side pocket, stood up and held the camera over my head. The mound in the big shadow is my 2010 RAV4 (which you can see the hood of in the lower right of the image) and you can just make out the shadow of the open door at its peak, along with me next to it, standing as tall as I can, though you can’t really make out my upraised arms holding the camera.

From that viewpoint, with the sun low behind me, and a 180 degree wide lens, there’s really no way to avoid having the shadow in the frame. So… embrace it and make it part of the image. Normally I’d have cropped out the RAV’s hood but, well, the shadow’s in there so might as well put at least part of the object casting it in there too.  The hood’s in the frame due to the fisheye’s extreme field of view combined with the distortion a fisheye adds to an image. If you don’t put the horizon right on the vertical center of the frame then it will curve, quite a lot as you frame the horizon more and more off-center.  To keep the Earth flat, so to speak, when shooting landscapes with a fisheye I usually frame with a centered horizon, and then crop out the stuff I don’t want that creeps in at the bottom and/or top of the frame. Usually, I’ll try to crop the horizon so it appears somewhere other than in the middle of the image because, well, more often than not that’s the most boring place to put it… unless the sky and the landscape are both really interesting and it’s worth it to give them equal billing. Or, when I decide to leave the hood of the car in the frame to explain why there’s this humongous amorphous shadow in the picture, with a sly shadow selfie to boot. 😉

Shadow Selfie
State Highway 50 (The Lincoln Highway)
The Loneliest Road in America
East of Eureka
Nevada, United States of America

Taken during travels, 2022