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

  1. what wonderful calming shots…..truly peaceful! quite the opposite of any thoughts Dorian….so glad u 2 r safe n sound….was touch n go for a minute there…

  2. Fabulous gallery, Tina! You’ve included a great variety of shots, with different moods and atmosphere. It is very hard to pick a favorite, but I guess I’m a romantic at heart. I was so taken with the shot of the couple on their honeymoon. The intimacy of that shot is wonderful! The graceful lines of the shrimp boat is also marvelous. Beautiful images!

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    • Thanks Svetlana. Don’t have the stats in front of me but usually I’d shoot manual with a high shutter speed for a shot like that one. Will check it out next time I have that disk mounted.

  4. In my corner of the world I’m often oblivious to the wider world, Tina, but thank goodness you’re safe despite my lack of thought. Sounds like it was more than a disturbance of the humming birds that Jill referred to the other day. But I love your shrimp boat 🙂 🙂 Wishing you a peaceful, happy week!

    • Thanks Jo – funny how blogging often tells us what’s going on in faraway places. Many times I learn about happenings in other parts of the world from posts and comments. Thanks for your good wishes and lovely comment. Wishing you the same!

  5. I appreciate the tips you shared. The two couple photos are my favorites, but then again, I like all of the photos you share! Your photography skills remain inspirational to me, thank you for sharing what you’ve learned and how you create opportunities to capture.

  6. Amazing set of silhouettes at all hours of the day, Tina. I really liked how you made the most of the two people who walked into your shot at the Glaciers and interrupting your creative process. In these situations you really can’t tell them to move…they have every right to be in front of you 😛 The woodpecker edit was brilliant, and so agree it has a distinctive silhouette. Well done. Most importantly glad to hear you are safe from the storm. It got quite a bit of coverage over the news – it’s over and many more beautiful tomorrows.

    • Thanks so much Mabel, yes the 2 people in my image did make me laugh but only in hindsight LOL. As for the storm, much worse than I expected but thankfully we came through. Mother Nature can be quite cranky sometimes!

  7. glad you are well after the storm –
    love the quote:
    ”If you want something to look interesting, don’t light all of it.”
    and the cormorant was a top photo for me with this post

  8. Beautiful shot here. I like the details that you can see in the silhouette in the first shot (the bpat). Getting a good sky behind the silhouettes always works, but getting a good mountain also works fine, as you show.

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  10. Such a fantastic series of photos. I really appreciate the detail you give about each one – regarding how and why each shot was taken. Catching the light at just the right moment can be such fun! And it’s just one more reason why I love sunsets at the beach 🙂

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  12. Great choices for your challenge, Tina. I love silhouettes and your shrimp boat is terrific.
    Was shocked that you stayed and very happy to hear that you were unscathed. Hope you have power by now.

  13. The opening image is both beautiful and majestic, Tina–and a shrimp boat, to boot! I did have to laugh at your comments on ‘Admiring Mountain Majesty.’ So many times, I have muttered under my breath: “Can you just move out of the way!” to someone who has wandered into ‘my shot.’ It has got the be the Northerner in us! 😀

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