Lens-Artists Challenge #62 – Silhouettes

“Photograph: a picture painted by the sun without instruction in art.”

Ambrose Bierce



Patti’s challenge this week requests that we seek silhouettes from among our images. Through the years I’ve focused my lens on several that remain among my favorites, including my opening capture. It takes me back to a pre-dawn shoot with good friends on a picture-perfect morning. As we set out on our adventure, a large shrimp boat pulled alongside our much smaller vessel and wished us a great day. As he motored past we all agreed no matter what came next, thanks to him the day was already a success.

Palmetto trees, silhouette, sunset, orange


“I really believe there are things nobody would see if I didn’t photograph them.”

Diane Arbus

Sunrise and sunset are both great times for shooting silhouettes. In addition to a beautiful sky, it’s helpful if one has a subject with distinctive elements that will eliminate any doubt about its identity in the darkness. I captured the image above one evening as my husband and I were heading to a beachfront restaurant near our home. The palmetto, South Carolina’s state tree, can be found most anywhere on Kiawah, especially at the beach. It’s distinctive fronds make it an excellent subject for silhouettes. 

silhouette, beach, sunset, couple, love


“Photography is a magical kind of art that allows people to preserve time and moments.“

Sahara Sanders

The image above, which I made several years ago, helps to show the importance of the way subjects are positioned when shooting silhouettes. Space is important because details are obscured. Having the subjects’ arms and legs positioned such that light is created between them helps to provide definition in what would otherwise be an indistinguishable area of black. The young couple in the image were celebrating their engagement here on Kiawah. They’re now married and expecting their second child – my how time flies!



Photographs are just light and time.”

John green

While I am fortunate that my beach location here in South Carolina lends itself to amazing sunsets and scenery, the beauty of a silhouette is that it can be created anywhere, anytime. While early morning and late evening provide excellent opportunity, mid-day shooting can also work. I created the image above in the midst of a sunny, cloudless afternoon. Shooting the bird as he crossed in front of the sun identified the unique shape of a cormorant as it soared overhead.

glacier mountain landscape, couple in silhouette


“Nature itself creates the most beautiful pictures, I’m only choosing the perspective.”

Katja Michael

While I must admit that initially I found it annoying, it was actually somewhat serendipitous that the couple in the image above wandered into my composition . Making lemonade out of lemons, I composed around them to create a landscape/silhouette image. Although it’s not my favorite capture from our time in Glacier, it does make me laugh as I remember the (fortunately) brief interruption in my creative process 😊.

woodpecker silhouette


”If you want something to look interesting, don’t light all of it.”

Joe McNally

I’ll close with a favorite image I’ve posted previously. I made the capture from my kitchen one afternoon as a woodpecker was working on the trunk of a palmetto outside the window. His shape was so distinctive it cried out for treatment as a silhouette. The day was bright and conditions were awful for photography, but a quick edit in High Pass and voila, a black & white that makes me smile every time I look at it.  After all, at the end of the day, isn’t that what it’s all about – taking and giving pleasure from simple moments that will last much longer than our memories might otherwise retain them?

Thanks so much for supporting our challenge, and special thanks to Patti for this week’s subject. We look forward to seeing your responses – remember to tag them to appear in the Lens-Artists WP Reader section and to link them to Patti’s original post rather than in the Reader. As always, stay tuned as Ann-Christine shares next Saturday’s challenge #63 on her Leya post.


PLEASE NOTE: Sincere thanks to those who expressed concern for our safety during Hurricane Dorian. We decided to stay on Kiawah despite the evacuation order and were stunned by the intensity of the storm. Fortunately although there were many very large trees down and tons of debris scattered throughout the island, there was no major damage and our beach came through beautifully. I shot the image in my header yesterday on our beach during the gorgeous day after the storm.









170 thoughts on “Lens-Artists Challenge #62 – Silhouettes

    • Thanks for outing the link between images and intention AWD – that’s what it’s all about, isn’t it? As for visits I don’t think I’ve missed any of your responses, am I in your spam???

      • dear friend,no you have not missed any..its me just waiting for you and your comments…like we miss a good persons company….thank you so much. I so dearly value your opinion

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  4. So glad you made it safely through the hurricane in your part of the world! I like the woodpecker silhouette. It reminded me of black paper portraits of people that were popular long ago.

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