If two objects in close proximity create an area of shade which is contiguous, would you call this a shadow or shadows? For example, which of the following sentences are correct, assuming that multiple palm trees create a contiguous shaded area:
The crowd gathered in the palm trees' shadow.
The crowd gathered in the palm trees' shadows.
My intuition is that it is the former (assuming the palm trees create one contiguous shaded area). If that's correct, when would you use shadows? When the shaded areas become non-contiguous? When the two objects are grouped separately?
If I'm wrong, what is the rule? Does the numerosity of "shadow" have to follow the numerosity of the objects which create the shade? Consider a case where at first I see a shaded area without knowing what is casting the shade. I would obviously just call it a "shadow." But if I then learn that there are multiple distinct objects creating the shade, would I then have to say "shadows?" That would be awkward.
I'm not interested in the figurative usage of the word "shadows," nor any usage where "shadows" does not mean multiple "dark areas or shapes produced by a body coming between rays of light and a surface."