Shooting Challenge: Silhouettes

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The silhouette manages to squeeze emotion and character into a figure devoid of light. It's a paradox in a way, to extract nuance to that without detail. And for this week's Shooting Challenge, you must capture a silhouette.


The Challenge

Take a photo that includes a silhouette of a person, animal or object. We just ask that you go all-out on committing to silhouettes and remove all discernible detail from the subject. In other words, whatever figure you capture should be in pure, lightless black. Oh, and no using Photoshop beyond basic brightness/contrast/exposure tweaking.

The Method

The basic principle behind the silhouette is to have a foreground subject that's darker than the background. The amount of light from the background will dictate the terms of your photo.

Digital Photography School recommends a few excellent tips, but those of you who prefer auto metering modes can use my favorite: Press your shutter button halfway down to set the exposure for the brightest part of your image, then shift your frame to include the subject. Then take the shot.

Picture Correct suggests using a narrow aperture (that means a high f-stop) to increase your depth of field, putting more of your shot in focus. Then again, a blurry silhouette or murky background could both be interesting tools in the right shot. Just take our lead photo by flickr member Kyle May—the out of focus background implies a larger scope to the photo's context, like a possible battlefield.


The Rules - READ THESE

1. Submissions need to be your own.
2. Photos need to be taken the week of the contest.
3. Explain, briefly, the equipment, settings, technique and story behind shot.
4. Email submissions to, not me.
5. Include 800px wide image (200KB or less) AND a 2560x1600 sized in email. (The 800px image is the one judged, so feel free to crop/alter the larger image for wallpaper-sized dimensions.)
6. One submission per person.
7. Use the proper SUBJECT line in your email (more info on that below)


Send your best photo by Monday, October 4th at 8AM Eastern to with "Silhouette" in the subject line. Save your files as JPGs, and use a FirstnameLastnameSilhouette.jpg (800px wide) and FirstnameLastnameSilhouetteWallpaper.jpg (2560px wide) naming conventions. Include your shooting summary (camera, lens, ISO, etc) in the body of the email along with a story of the shot in a few sentences. And don't skip this story part because it's often the most enjoyable part for us all beyond the shot itself!

If you like Shooting Challenges, you may also like my new day-in-the-life site: Life, Panoramic. Today, we're featuring photos from across India.


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