Gallery: blackness against the light
In order for the light to shine so brightly, the darkness must be presentSir Francis Bacon
Silhouettes are a great way to create drama in an image. By eliminating details they evoke mystery and can be enigmatic. They take to extreme the balances in contrast that we all work with in our photography.
For Debbie’s One Word Saturday ‘Black’ challenge I’ve put together a collection of silhouettes taken over the years and around the world. Many were taken at sunset or sunrise as nothing enhances a beautiful sky shot so much as an interesting silhouette in the foreground. But a few show some different takes on the theme. And because you can’t have black in a photo without light I’m also linking to Terri’s Sunday Stills theme, ‘Seeking Light’.
Note: some of these photos have appeared in previous posts, and a few have been edited to emphasise the silhouette effect!
and by the way
Tree at the Victoria Falls Hotel, early morning, with the spray of the falls beyond
Tree at sunrise on an early morning walk at Huab Lodge, Namibia
Retired riding elephant bathing in the Narayani River at sunset, Nepal
Lamps at the Emirates Palace hotel, Abu Dhabi, at sunset
(no, I didn’t stay there!)
Street lamps in Albuquerque, NM, on the stretch of Route 66 that passes through the city
Sunset at the Vyas Chhatri complex of cenotaphs in Jaisalmer
Sunset in Muscat, Oman
(note the two tiny figures by the watchtower)
Sunset at Jebel Shams, Oman
(more photos of that amazing sunset here)
Egrets at sunset, Fort Kochi, Kerala
Bird at sunrise, Souimanga Lodge, Senegal
Sign at a motel in Lander, Wyoming
Brooklyn Bridge, NYC
Statue of St Francis outside the cathedral in Santa Fe, with the Museum of Contemporary Native Arts beyond
Statue of Magellan, Punta Arenas, Chile
At a Bowie photo exhibition at MoPop, Seattle
In a neon sign shop, Soho, NYC
Absolutely excellent, Sarah! Divine photography!
Aw, thank you so much 😊
The beautiful silhouette of the desert
Thank you 😊
Very good posts as usual. I liked the Nepal one. (Ant his one) You’re in Colombia now? Did we talk about this? ( I really am losing my memory…) For how long? And where. Maker sure to visit the Botero museum in Bogotá and of course the “Museo del oro”.
I can’t remember if mentioned Colombia to you specifically, although I’ve referred to it in a couple of posts I think. Yes, we went to both those Bogota museums. We’re in Medellin now and today saw his sculptures in the Plaza Botero. I think they work best in the open, with people able to touch and interact.
Neither do I. Remember. Enjoy Medellin and the land of the “Paisas”. What’s the rest of your programme?
We’re heading to Cartagena tomorrow and will finish with a few days on the coast near Tayrona National Park
Good choices. If I recall the “Ciudad perdida” is close or in the Parque tayrona? (Never managed to get there. We did get to San Agustín though. Precious. Do you speak Spanish?
Yes, it’s close to Tayrona, but accessing it would be well beyond my capabilities from what I’ve read. We’ll content ourselves with some coastal walks. We only have very basic Spanish but enough to get by 😀
There’s something about silhouette photography which makes you want to look longer at it. It could make for a beautiful book cover. My favorite was the elephant with the sparkle of the setting sun behind it. The one in the photo exhibition is interesting, too.
I’m glad you like that elephant shot, it’s one of my own favourites 😀
Thank you 😃
Striking images. The Bowie one was so unexpected, it made me smile!
That one was pure serendipity! I’d sat down for a break as I was getting tired, and suddenly spotted that photo opp in the distance opposite my seat 😃
A great collection of silhouettes, Sarah. Impossible to pic a favorite. You have such an eye for finding the perfect composition for what you are trying to show. St. Francis, Bowie Art, Brooklyn Bridge, all great examples.
Aw thank you Donna 😊 I’m glad you liked them!
An absolutely stunning selection of photos, even by your standards, Sarah. I usually like to point out a few of my favourites on posts like these, but to do so here would be a disservice to the collection. At this precise moment, as I type this in the chilly Greek mountain village we currently live in, I feel I would quite like to be a retired riding elephant chilling out in the Narayani River.
Thank you Leighton – I’m now blushing a little 😊 Those elephants are living out their retirement very pleasantly but they will have had a hard life previously. Tiger Tops are trying to do the right thing by them now. They gave up offering riding safaris five years ago (unfortunately some other lodges do still offer them) and accommodate their elephants in large corrals. Each afternoon they walk down to the river, foraging en route and accompanied by visitors on foot to the camp, for a bathing session 😀
This is a very nice collection! I have the impression that it’s a recurring theme in your photography. Standouts for me are the lamps in Abu Dhabi, the sign in Wyoming, that great view of the oft-photographed Brooklyn Bridge, and the man at the MoPop. 🙂
Thank you 🙂 I always enjoy hearing which ones stand out for different people. If I remember rightly however, the figure at the MoPop was actually a woman!
That’s a very profound thought that the light can not exist without the darkness around it. We wouldn’t recognize the light in our life if we never experienced the dark. Beautiful pictures to go with a beautiful thought.
Thank you – yes, I really liked that quote when I found it, it’s true of life AND of photography 🙂
A beautiful image. 😊
Thank you – I’m curious which one you’re referring to?
That would be helpful, wouldn’t it? All the silhouettes are wonderful but the feature photo of two people really grabbed my attention. It is wonderful. 😊
Wow! A great take on the challenge – I love them all but hard to beat that first image!
Thank you Marie, I’m rather fond of that first one too – great memories of a stunning desert landscape!
Wow… this array of blackness and against the light are stunning, Sarah! Love every single one of these.
Thank you so much Amy, I’m very happy you liked them 😀
PS – I love your silhouettes – especially because not all of them were sunsets. A silhouette at sunset is almost cheating because it is so easy and spectacular
Thanks, and yes, I agree about sunsets. I had lots that I didn’t include here because they were too similar or would have overwhelmed the non-sunset ones!
When I read the opening comment, I thought of something different than what the subject of this piece turned out to be. If you were to be coming into a harbor at night when everything is black except the lights on shore, you are looking for two things. One is the lights on the buoys or other aids to navigation or on boats that are moving around you so that you can stay in the channel and don’t hit the other boats. The other is the absence of light – some large object (like an anchored boat or a big rock or small island) which is unlighted and the only way you can see that it is there is that it blocks the lights from shore. If you are lucky you have an electronic chart so you can see approximately where you are heading so you can avoid those ‘black holes’. I don’t think you could photograph that, or at least not with normal film. (what is the digital equivalent of film)
I see what you mean Rosalie but no, I don’t think you could photograph that without specialist equipment of some kind. Is the memory card the digital equivalent of film? It does the same job of recording the image but unlike film it has no relevant variables that influence what the image looks like. That’s down to the camera settings alone with digital – and post editing of course.
I was thinking that you might be able to do it with infra red – and you can do that digital, but I’m not clear on the process.
With film of course you would just load your camera with that kind of film.
Aletta - nowathome
Love your photos Sarah!
Thank you Aletta 🙂
Love your choices and captures, Sarah… very dramatic!
Thank you Teresa – I guess there IS a fair bit of drama in the contrasts in some of these shots 😀
Thanks so much Graham 😊
Such a dramatic post. Your first photo set the bar high, and you reached it with every one.
Aw thank you Margaret 😊😊 Glad you got the drama!
Great compositions Sarah! The elephant giving itself a shower is really neat.
Thank you – you can imagine how many attempts it took me to get the water where I wanted it in that shot!
Absolutely gorgeous photos Sarah! Xxx
Thank you Anna 😘
Such beautiful photos from different parts of the world. Thank you for sharing.
Thank you Lakshmi for the lovely feedback 🙂
Some great black shots, Sarah. I can see you like your silhouettes – they are great
Denyse Whelan Blogs
I really enjoyed your ‘take’ on the light…and seeing more pics from your travels. Black and silhouettes are very powerful in images. Denyse
Thank you Denyse, I’m happy you liked these 😀
Fabulous! I fell in love with the Abu Dhabi lamps, Sarah. And the Bowie 🤗💗
Thank you Jo 😊 That hotel in Abu Dhabi had the most wonderful architecture. It was just opposite my own very different hotel so I went a couple of times to get photos 🙂
Some really clever shots here, Sarah – the two silhouetted bird photographs are brilliant
Thank you Phil 😊 Souimanga was amazing for birds!
Wonderful silhouette collection Sarah. I love silhouettes myself 🙂
Thanks Brian – they make interesting images, don’t they?
Great silhouettes Sarah!
Thank you Anne 🙂
Mike and Kellye Hefner
Outstanding, Sarah! Love them all, but the Bowie is my favorite with the silhouette and the colors.
Thanks so much Kellye 😊 That shot was a bit of luck – I was taking a break on a bench when I spotted it!
Wow! The sunset photo at Jebel Shams in Oman is spectacular. I also like the elephant in Nepal (well, I always like your elephant photos 🙂). You have really shared some terrific silhouettes here!
Thanks so much 😊 Jebel Shams was stunning, both day time and at sunset, but REALLY cold at night!!
Love how you interpreted this challenge Sarah. Very clever how you’ve captured those silhouettes. I would rather watch elephants frolic in a river than ride them too!
Thanks so much Alison, good to hear you’re in agreement about the elephants 🐘🐘🐘
You’ve got a wonderful collection of silhouettes here!
Thank you 🙂
Terri Webster Schrandt
Wow, Sarah, I love what you did with this post in sharing the light! Sharing silhouettes is such a grand idea! I like the image of the elephant who is living it up in retirement after his service! Silhouettes is another great idea for a theme. Have a great time visiting Colombia!
Thank you Terri 🙂 The elephant is enjoying retirement because the lodge we stayed in, Tiger Tops Tharu, realised that offering elephant-back safaris to tourists wasn’t good for the elephants so now they keep them in a paddock and walk them down to the river each evening to bathe. Tourists can still enjoy the elephants’ company without hurting them!