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Silhouettes; Shadows And Form:
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Exposure Tips
The exposure technique you use is important when shooting silhouettes. You don’t want to allow the dark form that may be composed in the center of the frame to adversely affect the meter reading. What could happen in a picture like this (#6) is the meter detects the large dark area and, in trying to interpret the scene as middle toned (as all meters are programmed to do), it overexposes the scene such that the black silhouette is gray and the background is consequently too light. To prevent that, you should point the camera at the sky without the tree in the frame, push halfway down on the shutter to take the light reading, press the Auto Exposure lock button to lock that exposure in place, and then you can re-compose the photo as you wish and shoot. As soon as the picture is taken, the exposure is unlocked and you can shoot normally.

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Land Forms
Mountains can make excellent subjects as silhouettes, but as I mentioned earlier the shape of the geologic formations must be artistic or compelling in some way. Mount Kenya (#7), Africa’s second highest peak at 17,052 ft, isn’t the most beautiful mountain I’ve ever seen, but it was still quite impressive at dawn. Even more striking is the Huangshan Mountains in China (#8). I photographed them in misty conditions and captured a semi-silhouette. What makes them so appealing is their remarkable shapes. Chinese artists have painted them for centuries because they, too, recognized the artistry of the landscape.

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Life Forms
Wildlife subjects can make incredible silhouetted images as well. For example, the poison dart frog I photographed on a tropical leaf (#9) is one of my favorites. Notice that I didn’t use a brilliant sky background, but instead the backlit leaf was so much brighter than the frog it provided the type of situation needed to create a silhouette. On the other hand, the turkey vulture I found in Southern California (#10) was roosting for the evening and against the setting sun I thought the bird made an intriguing image.

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