Who would have believed that the subject of what constitutes a silhouette would have caused such debate in our household?  Views differed greatly, but hopefully I’ve selected a few photos that fit the Silhouettes topic for this week’s Lens-Artists Photo Challenge.

Traditionally we think of a silhouette as a darkened shape cast against a brighter background.   As light fades, we often recognise things by their shape alone.


In the photo below, I got carried away with photographing the birds and didn’t realise that I had pointed my camera directly into the sun.  Probably not the best idea.  What do you think?  Is it contrasty enough?

masked lapwing

The next photo was taken with a very old point and shoot (Kodak?) digital camera many years ago.  Photo processing software probably didn’t exist then.  The colours were a little nauseous, so I funked them up with a filter to give it that “Jack and The Beanstalk” look.


Photographing people in silhouette is a good way of maintaining their privacy.

shed man

In this last photo, I was going for the “he’s got the whole world in his hands” look.  I’m not quite sure whether it would pass as a silhouette.  What do you think?  Incidentally, the baby turtle (deceased) was one of the saddest things my True Love and I came across that day.


Any thoughts would be greatly appreciated.

Kind Regards.

53 thoughts on “The Shape Of Things

  1. Hi, Tracy. Glad you joined us. We had a bit of conversation too in my house about silhouettes. My son said the silhouette had to be absolutely dark. I thought a little detail was fine! I especially love shots 1, 3, 4….which are darker silhouettes. So, maybe my son is right! The Jack in the Beanstalk shot is fabulous with the filter. Great sense of mystery and danger there.

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    1. Thanks Patti. So nice to get your feedback. I think I prefer those ones too. It is fun photo challenges adventures like these that help us clarify our thinking. Thanks for hosting the challenge this week.
      I believe there are several trees like this that are still used as fire lookouts, but they are now closed to the broader public for climbing. The danger is real.

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  2. I do like your silhouettes! Never thought of the question, what defines a silhouette? I surmise that in nature silhouettes are darker against against a lighter background. Here when dusk starts to fall the trees to the north are silhouetted as the light fades. I enjoy this quality of fading light.

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  3. I don’t usually pay much attention to the themes for the photo essays you publish, being mostly interested in the photos themselves and how they touch me. But you asked about whether or not the photos actually fulfilled the theme of silhouette so I decided to describe what I think of the word.

    I guess it’s technically an outlined shape against a background, making each stand out in strong contrast. But I think a silhouette reduces a subject to the most basic simplicity, and since it’s based on the position presented, (facing front, facing side, etc.) it’s limited. Almost nothing projects its essence in a fraction of its being, so a silhouette is not so much a black shape as maybe a false idea. I prefer a bit of light that allows a being to be more honestly revealed.

    If your silhouette images are not perfect examples of the craft, I prefer them. There is depth and emotion to your pics, I sense the stories behind them, and they’re far more interesting than a strident black shape against a colored ground. And that tiny baby turtle – so very sad.

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    1. Thank you, Sharon. It is nice to get an artist and story-teller’s perspective. I like your thinking, particularly your comment, “Almost nothing projects its essence in a fraction of its being, so a silhouette is not so much a black shape as maybe a false idea.” Can I quote you on that in the future? It is brilliant. I prefer photos with stories too. Thank you for the thoughtful compliment.

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  4. so sorry about the turtle – and the second photo – you also caught that light on the water and so the photo had extra energy
    and Johnbo just wrote something that came to mind here:

    “Never shoot into the sun.” If there was ever a rule to be broken, this one sure is.

    and seems like there are times to take different shots – and the hand one with turtle did have a nice silhouette

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  5. I don’t care for rules, photographic or otherwise. 😉 If it’s beautiful, it’s beautiful and your silhouettes are exactly that, Tracy! I especially love the first one (incredible wings, aren’t they?) and the man with the hat – lots of story in that one!

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