Add flair to summer photos with silhouettes

by Earl J Posted on July 28, 2011

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If you’re looking to add dramatic flair to your pictures, think silhouettes. You may become a “Niche” photographer.

Some of the most respected of picture-takers call themselves niche photographers when they specialize in the type of pictures they take. These specialties may run from landscapes to weddings to reunions and so on.

I don’t personally know any, but there must be those who call their niche to be silhouette photography. Here are some examples of what silhouettes could do for you.

The first photo is of a sculpture where details of the boys can be seen due to the use of flash. The second is without flash, and exposing for the sky left the boys in silhouette mode. I like both, but the second shot is certainly more dramatic. That is one of the big plusses of silhouettes. All following pictures, as different as they are, qualify as silhouettes.

Sunrise is a great time for high drama. First is before sunrise at the famous Bemis Tree in Alberta, Canada. Second is of a December sunrise in north Florida.

Shooting into the sun can create different photos than what you might expect. One is of Delaware’s Rehoboth Beach in mid-day. By me exposing for that beach, the beach-goers become silhouettes. Next is sunset in Oregon, where people and their dog add to the drama of that brief moment.

Looking up, as shown here in Warsaw, Poland, can create a dramatic skyline. In the second shot, exposing for this lake in a Florida state park makes for an exciting outline of a tree.

Shooting into the sun can also make for interesting shots – first is of the Neptune statue in Gdansk, Poland and the other is of Cristo Rei in Lisbon, Portugal.

Some good silhouette photos can be accidents. My wife, Diane, and I were photographing a sunset in Sintra, Portugal, when she spied my shadow on a wall while I was shooting.

Have fun creating great silhouettes. Just remember to turn the flash off and expose for a bright background.

Earl Johnson

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  1. BarbaraJ Says:

    Earl, I love this article and I agree with you they are fun and make a great photo memory.

  2. petiam Says:

    Lovely ideas! I will definitely try to capture some ‘drama’ myself now! All your photos are beautiful (especially the sunsets), but that last one is simply magical…in fact, it almost looks like a painting – LOVE IT!

  3. AnnAbbott Says:

    I tried this out on our trip to Coronado this spring. Here is the photo on the cover of the book. It was a mermaid statue in a gift shop in front of the window. I was surprised how great it came out.

  4. Joey Says:

    I’ve always wanted to try this. I don’t think i was ever successful, yet. Thanks for your tips. I’ll give this a try!!

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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