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Weekly Photo Challenge: In Silhouette

16/08/2014

“The dark-veiled silhouette; that solitary form patrolling without visible strain or vainglory, a demented dreamland of fearful potential.” Kathryn Hulme
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Weekly Photo Challenge: In Silhouette

Weekly Photo Challenge: In Silhouette – Nature, a Church and Sade

Weekly Photo Challenge: In Silhouette

Weekly Photo Challenge: In Silhouette – More nature by the Hudson River and a Church in France.

A Silhouette can be described as an “image of a person, animal, object or scene represented as a solid shape of a single color, usually black, its edges matching the outline of the subject… typically presented on a light background … or none at all.” I’ve always found them fascinating to look at even though, and I’ve shared some of these in another Silhouette post,  I rarely think of using the technique when I take pictures. I’m not sure why, but I will pay more attention. How about you? Do you look for silhouette moments?

The word has an interesting history and is taken from the last name of Étienne de Silhouette. Étienne was a Minister of Finance in France in the 18th century. Because of an economic downturn during that period, he had to impose severe taxes on the wealthy, people looked for cheap ways to do things and his name was co-opted to represent anything made quickly and cheaply. To make sense of the term, we can look to the fact that cut paper silhouettes were the first way of capturing figures in early photographic portraits and forms.

“Rocks were not simply decorative silhouettes. They were part of the earth’s bones, with an anatomy of their own, caused by some remote seismic upheaval.” Kenneth Clark

Weekly Photo Challenge: In Silhouette

Weekly Photo Challenge: In Silhouette – This collage of human and structure silhouettes is from Wikipedia. The rest are mine.

There is also evidence that silhouettes were used in Ancient Egypt and Greece to create art forms; mainly in creating portraits of the human shadow… and perhaps shadows in nature. Over the years, they continued to gain popularity in traditional portraiture, Art illustrations, early theater and Movies, graphic design, sports shooting, and photography; they remain a popular technique in photography. The term is often used in the fashion Industry to express the form and fit of a designer’s vision.

As I sifted through my photo collections to find images that might fit this challenge, I was reminded of a cameo brooch my mom had when I was little. It was a black silhouette portrait of a woman from the chest up set against a pink background. They were very popular at one time and probably served as my earliest understanding of what a silhouette looked like. Another was catching a glimpse of my shadow at dusk and, of course, cutting those paper dolls and forms in kindergarten. Do you remember your first memory of a silhouette? Or the first time you caught a glimpse of your shadow in the setting sun?

More below!

“Vehement silhouettes of Manhattan – that vertical city with unimaginable diamonds.” Le Corbusier

Weekly Photo Challenge: In Silhouette

Weekly Photo Challenge: In Silhouette

I’ve enjoyed revisiting this popular technique and now that I’ve learned a bit more about it, I will be more conscientious of capturing photographic moments that exemplify the form.  Do you remember your earliest memory of creating paper silhouettes or seeing them in your home? Our memories are reservoirs of great stories and experiences, and photography has a way of pulling them up for us to look at. The photos above and here need no explanation. They were mostly shot at dusk; I believe it’s probably the best time for silhouette photos. Do you have a favorite? Do share.

This post was inspired by a Daily Post Prompt: Weekly Photo Challenge: Silhouette  This week, share a photo with a silhouette. Revisit Wenjie Zhang’s post on the quality of light for quick tips on backlight, or dive into silhouette tutorials by Digital Photography School and PetaPixel for more guidance.

Positive Motivation Tip: Take time to refresh your memory of special moments in your life. Take a few photos at dusk and reminisce. Your life is worth reflecting over…

More Weekly Photo Challenge Posts

PHOTO CREDITS/ATTRIBUTIONS: All Photos: One collage of Silhouette shots from Wikipedia and the rest from my Personal Collection.

Until Next Time…
Ask. Believe. Receive. ©
Elizabeth Obih-Frank
Mirth and Motivation
Positive Kismet

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45 Comments leave one →
  1. Rane permalink
    18/08/2014 9:41 am

    Wow .. who would have thought a Silhouette had such a deep meaning .. Great motivation tips .. really need to try taking pics at dusk and dawn

  2. FX777 Classified Articles permalink
    18/08/2014 10:49 am

    Most photographers preferred to shoot a silhouette because of its beauty and meaningful images. Fernando Lachica

  3. 18/08/2014 12:23 pm

    Such a beautiful collection of photographs. Loved them :)

  4. 18/08/2014 3:27 pm

    Really well done !!!

  5. 18/08/2014 5:18 pm

    Wow you have an impressive talent Elizabeth! I admire someone who can take a great photograph. Mine are sorely lacking, LOL, but it is one of the areas I plan to work on..

  6. 18/08/2014 6:11 pm

    I haven’t had a picture of my silhouette. That’s a great way of showing photography skills.

  7. 18/08/2014 7:05 pm

    You have shown us a great collection of various kinds of silhouettes and the one that stands out the most to be is of the children doing handstands with the setting sun behind them – magic!
    It was also interesting to read how the word came to be, thank you for that.

  8. Fred permalink
    18/08/2014 7:43 pm

    Beautiful photos with those jump shots in silhouette! I think I will try them one day myself. Silhouettes really add drama to the shots.

  9. Anna Sundqvist permalink
    18/08/2014 8:29 pm

    Truly beautiful photos. So tranquil ! I love the idea of a photo challenge – it really challenges you to look at things from a completely different angle.

  10. 18/08/2014 8:47 pm

    Love your photos of the sun sets.. It’s so amazingly shoot! Keep on snapping great photos!

  11. Papaleng Pagulong permalink
    18/08/2014 9:40 pm

    Interesting information about silhouette. I dig silhouette images specially sunrise and sunset photos. . Yours collection is awesome, in particular those Nature shots.

  12. hannizenvato permalink
    18/08/2014 10:18 pm

    I think it’s all about timing. When we travel (that’s when I take most of my photographs), it’s usually during the day -after breakfast- and back at the hotel in the late evening. It’s easier to take silhouettes when you’re in the great outdoors with the sun in front of you and no other obstacles in your way. I loved the photos you put up especially the 3rd batch bottom left with the blue sky and the last batch bottom right with branches

  13. Hina Naz permalink
    19/08/2014 12:32 am

    Wahoo lovely collection of pictures. Honestly I love sun set …. Dawn and dusk most beautiful moments for me

  14. Bintu @ Recipes From A Pantry permalink
    19/08/2014 12:52 am

    My gosh – what beautiful images. I would love to be able to take images like this.

  15. phyliciamarie permalink
    19/08/2014 2:42 am

    The collection of photos you put up there are actually good representations of silhouette. They always look very artsy when taken properly. I especially love those taken with sunsets. :)

  16. 19/08/2014 3:29 am

    Wow those photos looks amazing! Did you use any software like Lightroom to further improve the image quality? Or you just took them on the spot with your camera? What camera and lens are you using? I would love to try taking a picture of a silhouette someday.

    • 19/08/2014 7:43 pm

      I wish I had software to do tons of things in photos but I don’t even know of Lightroom. Some were purely accidental and others were timing. TY!

  17. 19/08/2014 5:31 am

    You were able to get a lot of good photos. One photographer friend thought me to focus the aperture on the subject and just allow the natural light to come in for silhouette.

  18. 19/08/2014 5:42 am

    I’m a photo enthusiast bt I’ve never taken a shot using silhouette. You got me excited about this trying it out :)

  19. 19/08/2014 8:43 am

    I usually associate silhouette with emotional and thoughtful photos. Although we can do happy ones, emotional ones tend to have more feel! Haha, what do you think?

  20. mrslookinggood permalink
    19/08/2014 8:47 am

    All beautiful silhouette photos. This is one type of photography that I rarely use as I’m not much of a photographer.

    To answer your question, I don’t remember making paper silhouettes when I was younger. And my favorite photos here are the kids playing and the silhouette of the tree with a ripple of water. Both gorgeous shots!

  21. 19/08/2014 9:55 am

    Beautiful silhouettes, Elizabeth :-)

  22. 20/08/2014 5:29 am

    nice photos and thanks for sharing even the etymology of the word! well researched! keep it up :D

  23. 21/08/2014 2:03 am

    there’s something about silhouettes in photos. though it does not show a face or emotion, it still has the power to produce gorgeous sometimes dramatic images. that’s quite a challenge for the photographer or painter to achieve that compared to the regular visuals we see

    • 21/08/2014 4:58 am

      Beautiful. I agree with you that it adds another dimension to what we see in photography. What makes it special is that it can be unintentionally dramatic.

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