Toecabulary: Silhouette

Toecabulary: Silhouette

January 10, 2019
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The world, life, is gracious that way. It sometimes holds beauty even in the deliberate obliteration of certain chosen details. It allows us to glean stunning darkness’s from light.

We aren’t trying to begin another school of philosophical thought, there are enough and plenty of those. We are merely trying to give this week’s Toecabulary theme a context, a prelude. Because this week, we are celebrating the beauty of silhouette.

There are four prerequisites to make a silhouette:

1. Plain, bright background:

Perhaps the most significant requirement to make a silhouette is to have a bright background that is also plain. It could either be sky or water so that the subject before it is transformed into a form containing nothing but a breathtaking blackness.

2. Underexposure:

You have this basic premise as the luxury of creative choice to make a silhouette. You underexpose the subject you want to capture the silhouette of, and the result will be akin to the following picture made in Kamchatka:

3. Matrix/Evaluative Metering:

What is a standard metering mode for most cameras – the matrix/evaluative metering mode – works perfectly for making a silhouette. It averages the exposure for the entire scene, so if the background (generally sky or water) is the largest part of the frame, using this metering mode ensures that the perfect balance in exposure is struck between the subject you want to make a silhouette of and the background, without overexposing the latter, as exemplified by the following image:

4. Exclude the source of light unless it’s larger than the subject:

When the source of light is behind the subject, you make its silhouette by usually excluding the source. However, in rare cases, you can include the source of light, too, provided your subject is smaller than the source of light itself.

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