Silhouettes are a fun thing to practice in photography. I have to admit I don’t usually photograph silhouettes when photographing dogs. So my examples this week are non doggie related.
In a previous blog “Catchlights” I mentioned that we as photographers are always chasing the light. If we are natural light photographers this involves being aware of where the sun is in relation to your subject or by using flashes or strobes to create our own light when natural light won’t do. Let's face it, we cannot move the sun, which is the most common outdoor source of light there is.
Ideally you would shoot a silhouette either early in the morning at sunrise or at the end of the day during sunset because contrast is key to creating a beautiful silhouette image. That is not to say that you cannot shoot a silhouette in the middle of a bright sunny day, you can. You can even shoot a silhouette indoors.
So, the trick to making a silhouette image is to do exactly the opposite of what we would normally do and that is, we're going to place our subject in front of the source of light so that they are back lit. Let’s take a look.
This first example is a sunset photographed in Sarasota, Florida. In another life, I used to travel for work a great deal. On one of those assignments, I was in Sarasota Florida. This was the view from my hotel. So every afternoon after work, I would rush to the beach to catch the sunset. The problem was that everybody had the same idea. A highway ran parallel to the beach and you guessed it, the entire shoreline was lined up with cars. I could have gone to the beach and photographed my sunset, but then I would have missed on the silhouette of the tall grasses and the people. So I exposed for the sunset and the foreground was darkened as a result. The contrast between the sky and the tall grasses create this silhouette. Remember all those cars that I mentioned were parked along the beach? The roof of the cars are at the bottom of the picture. I cropped the road and most of the cars, but if I had cropped the roofs, I would have lost most of the bottom of the picture. You cannot see the roofs of the cars because they're completely black. Silhouettes are great for hiding unwanted elements in a photograph.
Here is another example of a silhouette. This one was taken at the end of a celebration honoring the Ashland Harbor Breakwater Lighthouse centennial located on the South shore of Lake Superior in Ashland, Wisconsin. It was the end of the day and we were wrapping up the festivities, when I turned around and saw this sailboat. The color of the sky and the water have been enhanced in Lightroom. The same treatment that was applied to the sky and the water even though the effect appears more intense in the water. If you have ever seen reflections you will notice that reflections are always darker than the original object.
These next images were photographed indoors. I have a little figurine of the Kokopelli, a trickster god who also represents the spirit of music. Kokopelli is venerated by some Native American cultures in the Southwestern US.
The first image shows the original figurine. The figure to the right is the silhouette.
To create this image, I placed my soft-box at minimum power behind the figurine. The first image is the original figurine. The settings were adjusted until I obtained a perfectly black silhouette.
The next two images are playful variations of the first silhouette.
To make it more colorful, I brought the image into Photoshop and used the magic brush to remove the white background from the original silhouette. Then I created a new layer and filled it with color and applied the gradient tool. The last picture follows the same process, except that this time, instead of deleting the white background, I used the magic brush to eliminate the black silhouette of the figurine. Thus when the color is applied in another layer the transparent figurine now lets the color show through to reveal a colorful Kokopelli with a white background. If you want to find out more about this intriguing little character, you can read all about it here.
This is another silhouette done indoors. This is a figurine of a wolf. This time, I covered the soft box with a blue tissue paper to obtain this colored background.
In case you're wondering why so many indoor silhouettes, we had a huge snow storm earlier this week that dumped over 18" of snow and there's another one on the way. So I am hibernating right now. Silhouettes can be as simple as the picture of this wolf figurine or more complex and interesting when you have a beautiful background like the one below. Thank you for stopping by.
This blog was created as part of a weekly challenge. Each subject encompassing a new focus or photographic technique.
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Linda with VPShoots Photography in Tampa, FL