Silhouette Photography

by Earl J Posted on January 20, 2014

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A while back I started to notice that some of my most exciting and fun photographs included people or subjects in silhouette form. I know its usually a no-no to shoot into the sun but I’ve found that there can be some great shots taken this way. Then I found out I needed to take shots at different exposures to get the effect I wanted. This photo is of the famous Bemis Tree in |Alberta, Canada. It was really cold at the time but worth it to be there at an early sunrise. This was my favorite with the color of the rising sun just making itself known.

Tree at sunset

Normally the middle of the day is not a good time to take beach scenes but here, at Rehoboth Beach in Delaware, I shot into the sun and exposed so that the beach-goers became silhouettes. Again, it paid to take a lot of shots under a variety of exposures.

Delaware Beach

I was at this beach in Portugal in the middle of the day and I know that’s not the best time to take a photo, so I used an exposure that would show this young surfer as a silhouette. Under-exposing made that possible and an additional bonus was capturing the strength of the incoming waves.

Portugal surfing

Again, in Vienna, Austria, I shot a lot of different exposures. This exposure allowed the building to be high-lighted while the man and his horse became a silhouette. Again, I advise you to take a lot of shots under different exposures.

Prague, Vienna

Here’s sun-rise in Palatka, Florida. I left my hotel room just in time to get this view. I took a lot of shots in a couple of minutes because all these spectacular colors were soon gone.

Gulf Coast park

Now let’s move from sun-rise to sun-set. You can see in the photo of sea oats that the sun is about to dip into the ocean and, like the scene above, it is good to take many shots with many different exposures.

Sea Oats at sunrise

The next picture shows how a partial silhouette can help turn a typical photo into something special. In this shot I picked a spot where the two tree trunks could frame the fountain and, at the same time, turn the trunks into silhouettes.

Waterfall

This next view is from a cemetery in Oporto, Portugal at sunset time. The sky still had some color but the buildings and crosses turned to silhouettes.

Portugal cemetary

This scene was taken at about the same time of day, and shows some of the skyline in Warsaw, Poland.

Buildings

This next one was not taken at sunset, but in the middle of the day. This statue is of Cristo Rei in Lisbon, Portugal and I did get the silhouette effect by shooting into the sun, and positioning it so the sun was behind the statue to create a silhouette effect.

Portugal

This statue of Neptune is a popular spot to gather in Gdansk, Poland. I was able to get this effect again, by shooting into the sun and lighting the sky but not Neptune. If you look carefully you can see some small streams of water high-lighted just below his spears.

statue

Sunset time is a popular time for strolling and this shot was also taken in Gdansk. The couple became a silhouette because of the sun shining on them while I framed them in the doorway.

Vienna

I hope I’ve been able to show you some of the many ways available to add silhouettes to your photography creations.

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more about Earl J

I'm a long-time film photographer, starting with a darkroom in my parents' fruit-cellar when a teen-ager. I fought the change to digital at first, but no longer. I've become a convert and Shutterfly has been my on-line provider since 2002. Since then I've placed (as I write this) 135 orders for prints, enlargements, calendars for every year and 42 photo books in different sizes. I'm very pleased with the top quality of all Shutterfly products.

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