In the shadows

P1110792I woke from little sleep to glorious sunshine and crawled blearily from my bed, which seemed the most comfortable place in the world at that moment, even though it might as well have been a bed of nails the night before. Odd, isn’t it, how the same thing can look so very different depending on how you feel at the time? Take the sunshine… if I was going out to play, instead of heading to work, it would be a gorgeous day! If I were taking the camera out, not that I go anywhere without it, but you know what I mean, I would be delighted to have the backdrop of clear blue as a foil, for instance, to the mellow gold of old stone.

There is something about the stark contrast of the shadows thrown in sunlight, silhouettes dark against warm… that chiaroscuro created by the interplay of bright and sombre. It gives a scene life and texture… even when it is simply crumbling stone. Vistas of long empty spaces, punctuated by doors full of unknown and exciting possibilities yet painted on the canvas of memory, lead the eye and mind into adventure.

Imagination takes flight and spaces are populated with images and stories, flights of fancy or the quest for a deeper understanding of the vision before us. Thought meanders off at a tangent, exploring darkened doorways or gazing from the shadows to the clear sky framed above. Memories are created, images that take up residence in the mind, linking themselves inextricably with emotions and sensations, and the imprint of place remains long after the event has receded in time.


The darker the shadows, the greater the contrast, the brighter the light appears… which is something we all know, though even that, too, depends on how we feel at the time. We may only notice the shadows, diving or tiptoeing from one dark and unknown doorway to the next through a landscape painted by fear… wondering what monster may lurk around the corner, seeing only a tenebrous labyrinth. The bright patches on the ground then leave us feeling exposed and vulnerable and offer no respite, serving only to mark yet another threshold into the shadow that awaits.


Yet that light is cast from somewhere. Beyond the shadows there is a source of brightness. It is inescapable. The shadow is cast when something comes in between, blocking the sun. Yet there can be no shade without that source of light. It is always there. Shadows, no matter how deep, are intangible, they are effect, not cause and on the other side of the obstacle you can guarantee the sun is shining.


We may see the shadows and enjoy their cool respite from a sun too bright. We may be grateful for their softening of the marks of time upon our face. Perhaps they allow us to look up and see the source of light in all its beauty, glimpsed through a window. Sometimes, I think, they are just there so we can see it, be aware of it and understand its presence as we walk through the alternating brightness and shade, enjoying the adventure in all its twists and turns, looking back on the shadows from the warmth of the sun.

The photographs were all taken at Bolsover Castle in Derbyshire some years ago.

25 thoughts on “In the shadows

  1. Light and shadow so beautiful, so deceptive. Such extremes make the whole and give us glimpses of who and what went before, or rather what is still there if we choose to look.
    A pleasure to read Sue 💜

    Liked by 1 person

  2. A pleasure to read, and to ponder on, indeed Sue. Lovely pictures of Bolsover as well, one I haven’t made it to yet.


      1. Odd? I’m intrigued – how so? 🙂 I always thought it was more about the 18th Century than medieval, but as I’ve never been it’s probably a misconception. I didn’t even realise any of it was in ruins.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Most of the what remains, apart from the medieval earthworks, is 17th C but only the ‘Little Castle’… almost like a keep, and the stables are intact. The Little Castle, though , houses some very strange wall and ceiling paintings and ‘private chambers’…. many using mythological characters… but they tall a pretty strange story.

          Liked by 1 person

          1. Ah yes, I remember the Cavalier re-enactors on horses from the TV now, which is why I haven’t rushed up to visit it. Mind you, the ‘Little Castle’ does sound worth a trip, for the wall and ceiling paintings and the private chambers alone. 🙂


              1. And for the most part, a few hundred years too young for mine too. Still, we should go up there and see it for the medieval attributes you mentioned. 🙂


  3. Lovely photographs, Sue. You have an excellent eye. And the insight that shadows exist only in the presence of light is something we all need to hang onto.


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