Black/Shadows [Nurture Photography]

The air is cold, the winter sun is hanging low in the sky and soft cloud cover is breaking up the light. The clouds part slightly as they’re blown by a strong wind, the sun escapes from behind them for just a minute and casts tall shadows beneath the rusty Chicago El Tracks and behind buildings.

We walked for a few blocks, talking, my eyes glancing back and forth in the striking chiaroscuro of the space beneath the El tracks. Stopping here and there for just the right background, the perfect mix of shadow and light. A train passes overhead every now and then, we’re blown by the tailwind it pulls along behind it. I yell “Get Ready!” and press the shutter on a few photographs of cold fingers and of hair being whirled by the wind.

As we are coming to the end of our walk, snow begins to fall. Soft gentle flakes at first, then stronger until we’re forced to head back as snow sticks to every tree branch and building.

Nurture Photography: Black/Shadows

Nurture Photography: Black/Shadows

Look round and round upon this bare bleak plain, and see even here, upon a winter’s day, how beautiful the shadows are!

 – Charles Dickens

I’m thrilled to be beginning another season of the Nurture Photography Challenge. Inspiration has been difficult to come by for me in the month of January, the brown branches and dead grass aren’t really what I want to see. The freezing wind meaning that I’ve found it difficult to get out to where I really would like to go to take photographs. A sick family that has needed taking care of. Feeling a little like I’m trapped in the apartment just because it’s warmer in here than it is outside.

There have been a couple of times where I’ve felt as though I might not take photographs again. That the desire to do it just got in the way of everything else that I needed to do. But Olivia called me during the week and we managed to squeeze in a shoot in the hour or so between work and picking Mikey up from school. Her enthusiasm (and willingness to model for me in the freezing cold) pulling me out from the depths of the uninspired hole I’ve been living in all month.

Nurture Photography: Black/Shadows

Nurture Photography: Black/Shadows

Nurture Photography: Black/Shadows


Don’t forget to stop by at Live and Love Out Loud today for some fantastic tips on Low Light Photography!


Nurture Photography, Photo Challenge, Winter 2013

I’m teaming up with Kristi of Live and Love Out Loud, on another inspiring adventure as we photograph our way through winter with the Nurture Photography Challenge – a seasonal photo challenge series chock full of tips and tutorials, inspiring weekly prompts, personal feedback and encouragement.

Just a few details:

All are welcome regardless of skill level, camera equipment or geographic location.

Share your favorite images inspired by our weekly prompts each Friday and grab our lovely button while you’re at it!

Nurture Photography Challenge Winter 2013, Photo Challenge, Winter Photo Challenge

The linky will remain open from 9am Friday – 9am Thursday CST. Don’t forget to visit and comment on the previous entry in the linky list.

We’re sharing the photography love and showcasing our talented photographers by pinning some of your lovely photos to our Nurture Photography Inspiration Board.

The Nurture Photography Challenge has taken to Facebook! Stop by, “like” our new Facebook fan page, ask questions and share your work on our wall as well.

We love Instagram just as much as you do! We’ll be on the lookout for your beautiful winter photos, so be sure to use the #nurturephoto hashtag. We’ll share a few favorites on Instagram each week, sending a little bit of love your way.

Next week’s prompt will be White/Minimalism. For a complete list of prompts, head on over to the Nurture Photography Challenge Page.


  1. EEP she musta been so cold :O They are really good shots though.

    We don’t have locations like that around here where I live. It really sucks too ’cause I think I could do a lot with some place like that. The only place around that would is Philly but I honestly wouldn’t go there to do something like this. Too many dangerous places & all.

    But yay I love these photos, you did an awesome job 🙂 *thumbs up*
    Jenny´s last post ..My son, the little shutter bug

    • Thank you Jenny!

      She must have been cold, you’re right. I was cold and I was wearing plenty of layers! She’s a trooper though!

      There’s a kind of compromise with city living and photographing at places like this. Our neighbourhood (where these were taken) is relatively safe in comparison to other Chicago neighbourhoods, but I still certainly wouldn’t go alone at certain times of the evening or night. These were taken mid afternoon and although it looks like there is no one around and that it’s a little creepy, we were actually right next to a fairly busy road for most of them!

  2. I never would have guessed you too were feeling trapped and uninspired. These photos are phenomenal!! Like Kristi, I too love the edginess of these photos! I love the first one with her scarf blowing.
    I’ve been struggling as well. Thank you for the inspiration of this challenge. Its helping me to snap out of it a bit.
    Tish´s last post ..Black|Shadows

    • Thanks so much Mona, I remembered the Dickens quote while I was writing this but couldn’t quite get it right from memory. Thank goodness for google search!

    • Thanks so much Lisa. It has been pretty hard for me to feel particularly inspired this month, after all the glitter of the Christmas holiday faded away. But hopefully this challenge will pull me up out of that!

    • Thanks so much Molly, I’m glad to hear that you enjoy these photo challenges! Kristi and I just love hosting them too!

  3. I’m so happy for it to be challenge time again. And a great time to break in my new (to me) MacBook and brand new Photoshop Elements.
    Amanda Jillian´s last post ..Shadow Play

  4. Thank you for holding this challenges Rebecca! I need to practice the B & W photo processing ~ challenges like this one makes me to dare to try it a bit! I love all the shades and shadows in your photos !

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  6. How great you have someone willing to model in the coldness! I love your work, and I feel you about the cold. It’s not nearly as cold her in Charleston, but that cold wet wind we get some days makes it tough to get out…oh yes, and the sickness that’s been going around, ugh… Keep on shooting, girl!
    Anna-Leigh´s last post ..Noisy Panda – Nurture Photography Challenge

  7. laurie

    Rebecca…girl, don’t go in that hole again. Your photography rocks even in the dreary days you inspire all of us!

  8. Pingback: Black / Shadows [ Nurture Photography ]

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