Photographing Into The Light

Burnt trees silhouetted against a bleak sky in fire-ravaged Victoria, Australia.

I photographed this view of burnt trees in the Yarra Valley near Melbourne, Australia in silhouette and from a lower viewpoint to emphasize the drama and mood of the scene.

Photographing into the light will, without the appropriate adjustment to exposure, cause your subject to photograph too dark. The brighter the background, the darker your subject will become. Therefore, under high contrast conditions your subject will render as a silhouette.

But that's not always a bad thing as backlighting can be very atmospheric, even mysterious. What's more a well constructed silhouette can produce very evocative results. Here's how to do it.

Choose the Right Subject Matter

I think the above photo is a good example of a successful silhouette. That's because, from a compositional point of view, the trees are really just lines (some of them connecting to form shapes) and the more graphic the lines and shapes the simpler the image and the more successful the silhouette.

When trying to construct a silhouette avoid trees with lots of leaves as, under backlit conditions, those leaves will likely photograph as a great big black blob.

Photography And The Secret Of Suggestion

Suggestion lies in between reality and abstraction.

Most photographers are primarily concerned with documenting what they see as realistically as possible. Abstraction is when the scene or object/s photographed are done so in such a way that they are, at least at first, unrecognizable by the viewing audience.

I feel that the Art Of Suggestion is a much underrated aspect of photography.
— Glenn Guy

When it comes to the use of suggestion the idea is that the photo will engage your audience in such a way that will cause them to respond, emotionally, to what they see before they recognize what they're actually looking at.

In the case of the above image it's not so much the trees it's the design of your image, the composition, that becomes the subject matter of your photograph. OK, you're half way there.

The next step is when the mood, atmosphere or emotion that you've explored becomes key to the experience communicated in your photograph. Now that's powerful imagery, that's art!

Glenn Guy, Travel Photography Guru