Photo Tips

First Year: How to Capture Baby Shadows

Jennifer Tacbas

Jen here with another First Year post…and this one is about how to capture baby shadows!

Last week’s post was about Logan crawling, which has led her to some surprising and awesome new discoveries…like her shadow! Logan crawled into this big ray of sunlight that came pouring through our sliding glass door, and she turned around to see her shadow mimicking her movement for the very first time. She sat there for quite a while playing with her new friend!

First Year: How to Capture Baby Shadows by Jennifer Tacbas

I shot a whole series of beautiful images, one of which I shared with you last week, and I shared a few more on my own photography blog. These images were such a huge hit, I decided to scrap my original idea for this week’s blog post. Instead, I am leading you through my photo recipe for how I captured Logan with her shadow.


Pick a room in your home that has a window or glass door that faces the sunrise or sunset. Ideally, this room would also have a large area of open space so the ray of sunlight on the floor – and your baby’s shadow – will look flat and smooth. Unnecessary objects in the room or on the floor might distort the ray of light and shadow.


The time of day is possibly the most important part of this photo recipe because these images have to be taken when a strong ray of light is coming into the room. This usually only happens during sunrise or sunset when the sun is lower in the sky. For example, for the above image, the sun rose just above the tree line in the backyard around 9am and created a long, strong ray of light on the floor. Begin shooting immediately because as the sun continues to rise, the ray of light on the floor keeps shortening until it’s gone.


Turn off all interior lights in the room. Sit baby with her back to the sunlight.

The flash on my DSLR is always off. I shoot in Manual mode, so I have to set my aperture, ISO and shutter speed manually. I want a slightly blurry background, so I set my aperture to f/2.8. To freeze baby’s movement, you will need a quicker shutter speed, and 1/160 sec did the trick for the above image. I was able to keep the ISO low but bumped it up slightly to 250 so that I could lighten up Logan’s face a bit.


I chose a vertical format to make the most of that long ray of light and Logan’s big shadow. There are two strong subjects in this photo – Logan’s shadow is just as important to this photo’s story as she is. I chose to frame the two of them in a way that gave them equal importance – Logan in the upper right corner and her shadow in the lower left corner.


I focused on Logan’s eyes, reframed the image and locked my focus; then I returned to my original composition and took the photo!

Here is a similar image using the same camera settings and composition; the only thing different is Logan is showing off her awesome core strength and balance, something she regularly does. Don’t you just love those toes?!

First Year: How to Capture Baby Shadows by Jennifer Tacbas

Here are two more images using the same set up and similar camera settings. I stood on an ottoman to get up higher and shot down. I love them both so much!

First Year: How to Capture Baby Shadows by Jennifer Tacbas

Above image: ISO 200, f/2.8, 1/400 sec. This is my favorite shadow image!

First Year: How to Capture Baby Shadows by Jennifer Tacbas

Above image: ISO 200, f/2.8, 1/200 sec

Most of the images where Logan is interacting with her shadow I converted to black and white. I think the conversion simplifies the scene and more clearly tells the story in the images. The last one where she is crawling into the sunlight, she is not interacting with her shadow, so I chose to leave it in color.

I am so thrilled with how all these baby shadow images turned out! I hope you will give this photo recipe a go with your favorite baby and whatever camera you have, whether it’s a DSLR, point-and-shoot or smartphone. Use the photo recipe as a starting point, and then have fun experimenting with different perspectives. If you capture something you are excited about, Me Ra and I would LOVE to see it! We invite you to post a photo or two on Me Ra’s Facebook page.

Meet me here next Monday when I will be blogging images from a new first I cannot wait to share with Logan. You’ll have to come back here next week to see what it is!

First Year Cheers!


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