Light and shade


Look at the visual in the 2010 VCAA English exam available at

Effect on reader

Light and shade can be used to create meaning by what is included or excluded from the image, or can be used to reflect the ideas we generally associate with light and darkness. For example, shade and darkness is often associated with negative, surreptitious or secretive things.


In the example of the 2010 VCAA exam, the visual includes a pair of hands, signifying to the reader that a human is part of the visual, and yet the person’s face and body are cast in shadow, excluding them from the image. This is effective in leaving the owner of the pair of hand’s identity ambiguous; allowing the reader to see the hands as representing all of mankind. It could also be perceived as indicating that the pair of hands could belong to anyone- including the reader- putting responsibility on them to care for the planet.