Post image for Shadow Explorations with an iPad

Have you ever got that feeling that you aren’t making the most of a resource? Ever since I bought my mini iPad I knew I hadn’t done enough experimenting with Photo Booth. I had given classes opportunity to freely play with Photo Booth and its effects. The use of the mirror app is very helpful for plant identification games and symmetry work or for creating pictures with clouds. But I still felt there was more to be gained.

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One of the main constraints is time. It’s not simply time to DO everything, but time and space to think, experiment and play about with an idea before it’s tried and tested with children.

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So last weekend when I was taking my dog for a walk, I decided it was time to spend some time just messing about. To my surprise I discovered the potential of Photo Booth for creating shadows and finding out about the properties of light.

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Cameras are all about light explorations. The terminology used in the Photo Booth app is confusing this way. The “thermal” does not mean that the camera detects infrared light. It continues to use visible light but simply portrays it in the style of a thermal camera – the quick check being that when it is dark you cannot see anything through the camera lens. However the colour variation of the light intensity is great for shadow work. As the photo of the sun shows, the maximum light intensity is red, followed by orange and yellow. The lowest intensity light is blue.  Thus suddenly shadow work becomes very colourful indeed.

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Sadly at this point I was walking alone and despite my best attempts I couldn’t create funky shadow selfie photos. Striking a cool pose and taking a photo at the same time was a little too challenging. Partner work really helps here.

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So to further amuse myself, I realised that the X-ray feature on Photo Booth was not really an X-ray photo. Otherwise I would have seen my dog’s bones when I photographed him. However, the world is reversed and shadows are now the light patches! Aha!

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This discovery means that investigating shadows and light with children suddenly has a new dimension. The world of shadows can be explored in new ways. I really like this idea.

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It means there is follow on art work which goes beyond the traditional silhouettes.

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All those shadow play ideas now have a digital companion.

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Once again, the combination of a digital device and the outdoors works nicely together. And this can happen in any outdoor space. All you need is sunlight and shadows.

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Kierna April 17, 2014 at 09:56

Love this idea, Juliet, one to test with our iPad class next term, thanks xx


Juliet@CreativeSTAR April 18, 2014 at 18:54

Yes – I’m really excited by the “doable-ness” of Photo Booth shadow work – I just feel it adds a lovely dimension to explorations – be these formal or play-based.


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