Perfecting Photograph Shadowing by Gary Haines

"Designer's Divide" taken at Ralph Lauren's Double RL Ranch in Southwest Colorado. 

"Designer's Divide" taken at Ralph Lauren's Double RL Ranch in Southwest Colorado. 

Patrons often walk into Grizzly Creek Gallery and are amazed by the depth and realistic shadowing created simply through a photograph. Many even ask if Gary’s works are actually paintings! He attributes this effect to his years of working with different mediums of art - learning techniques such as side lighting, foreground anchor points, and balance.

At the age of 12, Gary knew he wanted to become a commercial artist. He attended Arapahoe Community College where he focused on art history, drawing (including nudes! Gasp!), watercolor, and oil painting. This is where the effect of shadowing came in. 

“When you’re drawing or painting, often times it’s of still life images. To create the perfect shadow, you rotate the image under certain lighting that casts the perfect shadow on the object and simply fill in that shadow,” explains Gary. 

After art school, Gary became fascinated with an all-new medium to him: photography, and most other art forms went to the wayside. “When you apply the idea of side lighting to photography, it gives that 3-D image, an illusion of dimension.”

The major difference, of course, is that you can’t tilt landscapes to create shadows like you can a piece of paper or canvas. 

However, learning side lighting through other mediums helped him grasp the notion when photographing landscapes. Gary will find a location and shoot just to the left or right of center, which pulls the natural shadows of a landscape to give that feel three-dimensional feel. His photograph, “Rancher’s Paradise,” is a great example of side lighting.

Natural shadowing is also one of Gary’s best friends when it comes to his stunning images. Before any photo shoot, Gary scouts the area, finding the perfect place. This includes looking for a balanced piece of landscape that also allows for a good foreground anchor point. Once he has found these, he waits… 

Sunrise and sunset help to create the natural shadows needed. His above photograph, “Designer’s Divide,” was taken around 5:30 am to capture those shadows. 

Longer shadows are created when the sun is closer to the horizon. Shorter shadows are created when the sun is higher in the sky - around 8 or 9 am. However, it always depends on the scene. 

Through patience and a background in many other art mediums, he has learned, on his own, over the years how to bring his photographs to life through shadowing.

Hopefully these small tips can help other photographers find their depth and dimension. 

Getting to Know Gary by Gary Haines

It’s been over 16 years since Gary A. Haines, photographer extraordinaire, opened Grizzly Creek Gallery in historic Georgetown, Colorado. Thinking back, he never really expected that this would be how he spent his years of retirement, yet he couldn’t be happier.

A native Coloradan, Gary grew up in the foothills and eventually became a firefighter for South Metro Fire Rescue, serving for 32 years. During this time, he married his lovely wife, Gay, and they had a son, Stewart. After his years served, the family finally had a chance to move up to the mountains - a place of serenity after the busy years of firefighting and city living. 

While he may have been a city boy, his love of the Colorado landscape and wildlife led him to develop a hoppy for oil painting during his time with South Metro. Simply a hobby, he explains that developing techniques, such as the perfect shadowing effect, is what eventually led his eye when he began to play around in the field of photography.

More than 20 years ago, he began messing around with original film cameras and fell in love with the art form. To this day, he still shoots almost all of his images on original panoramic film - something rarely seen in these days of digital. 

Haines is one of the last true purists. This means his photographs are never retouched. What you see is what he got. Patience, luck, and lighting make his landscapes look almost unreal. Looking at a Haines portrait is like looking through his lens at the exact moment the image was captured. 

Sharing the breathtaking views and wildlife he has encountered over the decades, not only in Colorado but also from around the world, has been a highlight in his already fulfilling life. He is constantly met with “oohs” and “aahs” when visitors to Georgetown stroll into his gallery. 

As he says, “it’s what makes all the time, traveling, and work to run a gallery worthwhile. Nothing feels better than seeing one of my portraits touch someone to their very core.” You know you must be doing something right when this happens almost on a daily basis. 

Keep an eye out for more blogs highlighting photography tips for amateurs, new images, products for home and office, and of course, stories of Gary’s amazing adventures.