Purple Prose + psychology

On the Dark Side: Adding Dimension

©Stina Lindenblatt

Normally, when I do a writing/photography post, I can write about one idea and apply it to both crafts. Not this time.


Contrasts are a great way to add dimension to your character and increase conflict, both internally and externally. The interplay between the light (good) side and the shadow will make the character unique from the other characters in your story. Maybe she’s smart and witty, but she fears being betrayed by someone emotionally close to her [insert backstory here]. Can you imagine the conflict (both internally and externally) this can cause if she attract the attention of the hero who is turned on by smart and witty?

Do you develop the light and shadow sides of your characters to make them dimensional and add conflict to your stories?


The interplay between a dark background and a single light source on your subject makes for great dimensional photos. However, by the nature of the camera design, the picture might not come out as you had intended. Because the light meter in the camera is designed to assume the average gray scale of the scene is 18 % (don’t worry if you don’t know what that means), a scene composed mostly of dark colors will end up looking much lighter than in reality.

There are several ways to avoid this:

  • Use an external light meter.
  • You can place the palm of your hand between the scene and the camera lens. This only works if the skin on your palm is not dark. I did this method for the above photo because the battery for my external light meter was dead. *face palm*
  • If your camera has a spot meter, determine the exposure based on part of the scene that doesn’t fall in the two extremes.
  • Adjust the exposure with a photo editing software.
For the first two, you want to make sure you measure the light that falls on the subject. For example, if you subject is in the sunlight but your hand is in the shadow, your photo will come out overexposed.

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On the Dark Side: Adding Dimension + psychology