Shooting Challenge: Solarization

It looks simultaneously familiar and strange. Solarization reverses the shadows and highlights of an image, creating a sort of opposite world. And for this week's Shooting Challenge, you're going to try it out.

The Challenge

Take a photo. And solarize it (reversing the highlights and shadows to create a new image). Your end product should be black and white only.


The Technique

Solarization is an old film/processing technique. But the good news is, for those of you without a dark room, it's easy to duplicate in post production. Embedded to the left is a tutorial for solarization in Photoshop, and here's one for those of you who use GIMP.


Tips for source photos? Think about shadows and textures. Really try to view your subject in the frame of black and white, and there's a good chance, in post production, your image will only grow more interesting. Other ideas: Consider the theme of opposites. Play with the viewer's expectations by making traditionally bright things appear dark, and vice versa.

The Example

Our lead shot is by flickr's versionz. Why is this image interesting, you wonder? Well look at the top of those tents. It's all dark...but that part of the image should be glowing with light. The result is subtle, but ever-so off to the eye, and the image grows more interesting because of that.


The Rules

0. No watermarks. They're so ugly.
1. Submissions need to be your own.
2. Photos must be taken since this contest was announced (read more on that above).
3. Explain, briefly, the equipment, settings, technique and story behind shot.
4. Email submissions to, not me.
5. Include 970px wide image (200KB or less) AND a 2560x1600 sized in email. I know that your photo may not fall into those exact high rez dimensions, so whatever native resolution you're using is fine.
6. One submission per person.
7. Use the proper SUBJECT line in your email (more info on that below)
8. You agree to the Standard Contest Rules - though we DO accept non-US resident submissions.
9. If the image contains any material or elements that are not owned by you and/or which are subject to the rights of third parties, and/or if any persons appear in the image, you are responsible for obtaining, prior to submission of the photograph, any and all releases and consents necessary to permit the exhibition and use of the image in the manner set forth in these rules without additional compensation. If any person appearing in any image is under the age of majority in their state/province/territory of residence the signature of a parent or legal guardian is required on each release.


Send your best photo by Monday, October 29th at 10AM Eastern to with "Solarize" in the subject line. Save your files as JPGs, and use a FirstnameLastnameSolariz.jpg (970px wide) and FirstnameLastnameSolarizWallpaper.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!

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