silhouette

3 Winning Entries in the Essence of Bellingham Photo Contest

Odd. While doing a Google search to see how my stuff is ranking (average on the 3rd page), I ran into the results of the City of Bellingham Essence of Bellingham Photo Contest.

Yes I am bragging.

No, it’s not the Pulitzer.

But, you don’t know if you’ll win if you don’t enter contests either.

Perusing through I noticed the link for the 2014 competition which just ended. Upon opening the page, I read that I won 3 awards:

  1. Honorable Mention for “Morning Fog.”
  2. Best of Subject: Sunrise/Sunset – “Watching the Ships Roll In”
  3. Best of Subject: Water –  “String of Pearls”

Here are the photos!!

“Morning Fog” –

© Paul Conrad/ Pablo Conrad Photography - A leaf rests in a pool of tidewater along the shore at Boulevard Park during the morning fog in Bellngham, Wash., on Friday morning October 18, 2013.

© Paul Conrad/ Pablo Conrad Photography – A leaf rests in a pool of tidewater along the shore at Boulevard Park during the morning fog in Bellingham, Wash., on Friday morning October 18, 2013.

Photographed this scene while wandering around Bellingham during a particularly foggy autumn last year. As I walked around, I saw this tide pool a leaf had fallen into. So I spent some time working the composition to get something I liked.

I shot it wide, then medium. Started up close then stepped back. Used my Nikkor 17-35mm f/2.8 then tried my Nikkor 80-200mm f/2.8 on my Nikon D300s.

I liked the wide and up close the best.

“Watching The Ships Roll In” –

© Paul Conrad/Pablo Conrad Photography - A man watches a sailboat traverse the setting Sun while ejoying a front row seat of a gorgeous sunset at Boulevard Park in Bellingham, Wash., on Sunday Aug. 25, 2013.

© Paul Conrad/Pablo Conrad Photography – A man watches a sailboat traverse the setting Sun while enjoying a front row seat of a gorgeous sunset at Boulevard Park in Bellingham, Wash., on Sunday Aug. 25, 2013.

There was no time to shoot “Watching the Ships Roll In.” I went to the Boardwalk with my wife Heidi and as I got out of the car, I saw the sailboat, the man with the hat, and the setting Sun.

The man with the hat makes this photo I believe. He’s slightly turned so you see the Sun through his glasses, he’s in silhouette, and his posture is relaxed.

I knew the sailboat would have traverse the Sun. Because I didn’t want the empty bench of the man was sitting on, I found a position where the man was on the right side of the frame. As the sailboat became closer to the Sun, I moved so you could see the full of the sailboat.

Using my 80-200mm on my D300s, I zoomed in and then slowly zoomed out until I had good placement of the Sun and man. Then I waited for about 30 seconds as the sailboat went in front of the Sun.

My exposure was simple: Sunny 16 minus 2 stops. Pull into Photoshop using RAW, simple curves, then caption and save.

“String of Pearls” –

© Paul Conrad/Pablo Conrad Photography - Morning fog dapples a spider web with dew on West Bakerview in Bellingham, Wash., on Thursday morning Oct. 4, 2013.

© Paul Conrad/Pablo Conrad Photography – Morning fog dapples a spider web with dew on West Bakerview in Bellingham, Wash., on Thursday morning Oct. 4, 2013.

It was another foggy morning when I shot “String of Pearls.” A wet, heavy fog.

While taking my wife Heidi to work, I noticed all the spider webs in the fields along West Bakerview. So after dropping her off, I drove around for a bit looking for some intact webs that would make great photographs.

At Whidbey Island Bank at the intersection of Bakerview and Northwest, I saw a sapling in the parking lot. On that little tree was a huge spider web and it was dripping in fog.

I wanted to get close so I threw my Nikkor 55mm f/3.5 Macro onto my Nikon D300s. I worked the composition: straight on, to the side, midway, narrow depth of field, deep depth of field, etc.

My favorite is this: To the side as close as possible with narrow depth of field. The blue? Caused by shooting on the tungsten white balance in daylight. Post processing was my standard: shot on RAW, brought into Photoshop. Used layers for minor burning and dodging, a curves layer, and unsharp mask.

Last year I won Best of Show – Professional with this image:

“Blazing Runner” –

© Paul Conrad/Pablo Conrad Photography - A runner jogs along the Boardwalk at Boulevard Park in Bellingham, Wash., during a blazing Sunset on Sunday evening April 14, 2013.

© Paul Conrad/Pablo Conrad Photography – A runner jogs along the Boardwalk at Boulevard Park in Bellingham, Wash., during a blazing Sunset on Sunday evening April 14, 2013.

I would like to say a special thank you to the City of Bellingham for choosing 3 of my photos out of nearly a thousand as images that represent our community. I would also like to thank my wonderful wife Heidi for her patience as I continue to pursue my dream.

As with most contests, you have to take them with a grain of salt. By all means enter. You never know if you’ll win, place, or show. But you don’t know if you don’t try. So enter those contests. Just make sure you read the fine print that the contest isn’t a “rights-grab” for unlimited use of your images.

Thank you for stopping by to read and view my work. Feel free to comment, critique, or just ask questions.

Also, feel free to share and reblog, link to, and add your site in the comment section.

Paul “pablo” Conrad

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Reflections of 2013 – My Best Images From the Past Year

This post is a bit late as I’ve dealt with the passing of my beloved father-in-law Todd. He was a great man, a retired Army 10th Special Forces member who  spent time in Korea during the Vietnam War, in Iraq, Nigeria, and Afghanistan and other places that if he told me “(he) would have to kill me.  He became a great friend who I admired and respected. His laugh was infectious. He was a great soul and loved by everyone. His loss weighs heavy on my heart as well as my wife Heidi’s.

As the year comes to a close, I submit what I would consider my best images from 2013. These range from landscapes to city scenes to portraits to events. It’s been a fun and eventful year as I’ve worked with Getty Images, the Mount Baker Experience magazine, Total Confidence Martial Arts, won photography awards with the City of Bellingham and the Whatcom Tourism Board, Victoria’s Secret, and a few others.

During the past year, I also became more serious about pursuing portraiture and weddings. Although I love journalism and see not only its importance but its value, I must move my career towards more local work. And what’s more important that capturing the love between two friends?

I would like to give a big Thank You to all my followers and friends for reading and commenting on my blog. Without you, this blog would not exist.

Watching The Ships Roll In: – A man watches a sailboat during Sunset on the Boardwalk at Boulevard Park in Bellingham, Wash. –

© Paul Conrad/Pablo Conrad Photography - A man watches a sailboat traverse the setting Sun while ejoying a front row seat of a gorgeous sunset at Boulevard Park in Bellingham, Wash., on Sunday Aug. 25, 2013.

© Paul Conrad/Pablo Conrad Photography – A man watches a sailboat traverse the setting Sun while ejoying a front row seat of a gorgeous sunset at Boulevard Park in Bellingham, Wash., on Sunday Aug. 25, 2013. (© Paul Conrad/ Paul Conrad Photography)

Foggy Morning Walk:A pedestrian on Cordata Parkway during a foggy autumn walk in Bellingham, Wash. –

© Paul Conrad/ Pablo Conrad Photography - A woman walks her dog into the morning fog at the Boardwalk in Bellngham, Wash.

A woman walks her dog into the morning fog at the Boardwalk in Bellngham, Wash. (© Paul Conrad/ Paul Conrad Photography)

Sunset Jog: A jogger on the Boardwalk against the setting Sun in Boulevard Park in Bellingham, Wash. –

A runner jogs along the Boardwalk at Boulevard Park in Bellingham, Wash., during a blazing Sunset on Sunday evening April 14, 2013. (© Paul Conrad/ Paul Conrad Photography) bellingham photographer, bellingham wedding photographer

A runner jogs along the Boardwalk at Boulevard Park in Bellingham, Wash., during a blazing Sunset on Sunday evening April 14, 2013. (© Paul Conrad/ Paul Conrad Photography)

Full Moon Rising: The super perigee Moon rises between the turrets of the Whatcom Museum in Bellingham, Wash. –

The full super perigee Moon rises over the Whatcom Museum in Bellingham, Wash., on Monday evening July 22, 2012.  (© Paul Conrad/Paul Conrad Photography)  bellingham photographer, bellingham wedding photography,

The full super perigee Moon rises over the Whatcom Museum in Bellingham, Wash., on Monday evening July 22, 2012. (© Paul Conrad/Paul Conrad Photography)

String of Pearls: Dew drops on a spider web –

© Paul Conrad/Pablo Conrad Photography - Morning fog dapples a spider web with dew on West Bakerview in Bellingham, Wash., on Thursday morning Oct. 4, 2013.  (© Paul Conrad/Paul Conrad Photography), bellingham wedding photography, bellingham photographer

Morning fog dapples a spider web with dew on West Bakerview in Bellingham, Wash., on Thursday morning Oct. 4, 2013. (© Paul Conrad/Paul Conrad Photography)

Mount Baker Alpenglow: The setting sun bathes Mount Baker in its rays –

The setting Sun alights Mount Baker in alpenglow on Monday evening July 22, 2013.  (© Paul Conrad/Paul Conrad Photography), bellingham wedding photographer, bellingham photography

The setting Sun alights Mount Baker in alpenglow on Monday evening July 22, 2013. (© Paul Conrad/Paul Conrad Photography)

Lone Wolf: A red rose among a sea of yellow during the Skagit Valley Tulip Festival in April –

© Paul Conrad/Pablo Conrad Photography - Tulips blooming at Rozengaarde Tulip Farm in Skagit County, Wash., on Tuesday April 15, 2013.

Mt. Shuksan: Melting ice on Picture Lake –

© Paul Conrad/Pablo Conrad Photography - Mount Shuksan is reflected in a thawing Picture Lake as it is lit by the setting Sun on Saturday June, 22, 2013, while the super perigee Moon begins its ascent into the sky.

Footprints: My foot prints in the snow atop a frozen Picture Lake while capturing Mt. Shuksan in alpenglow –

© Paul Conrad/Pablo Conrad Photography - Alpenglow on Mt. Shuksan in the Mount Baker/Snoqualmie Wilderness in northwest Washington east of Bellingham.

Little DJs: Kids playing DJ at the wedding reception of Chelsea and Ryan –

Junior DJs- Kids play DJ at the wedding of Chelsea and Ryan

Soaring: An American Bald Eagle on Whidbey Island

© Paul Conrad/Pablo Conrad Photography - A Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) takes flight along West Beach Road on Whidbey Island east of Oak Harbor, Wash.

Strength: Anna Haskin as she prepares for an upcoming bout –

© Paul Conrad/Pablo Conrad Photography - Muay Thai black belt Anna Haskin trains at Total Confidence Martial Arts in Bellingham, Wash., for an upcoming bout. Haskin has recently began competing in the amateur circuit.

Concentration: Anna as she prepares for an upcoming bout –

© Paul Conrad/Pablo Conrad Photography - Muay Thai black belt Anna Haskin trains at Total Confidence Martial Arts in Bellingham, Wash., for an upcoming bout. Haskin has recently began competing in the amateur circuit.

Bedazzled Bellingham: The setting sun ignites the Twin Sisters and Bellingham –

© Paul Conrad/Pablo Conrad PhotographyThe setting Sun glints off windows and street signs in Bellingham, Wash., as it bathes the snow capped peaks of The Twin Sisters of the Cascade Mountain range in its last rays.

Celebrating Freedom: 4th of July fireworks of Squalicum Harbor in Bellingham, Wash. –

© Paul Conrad/Pablo Conrad Photography - Boats moored at Squalicum Harbor as fireworks explode overhead during Fourth of July celebrations at Zuanich Point Park in Bellingham, Wash., on Thursday July 4, 2013.

What A Show: Kayaking at sunset in Bellingham Bay –

© Paul Conrad/Pablo Conrad Photography - A kayaker paddles on Bellingham Bay under a brilliant sky near the Boardwalk in Boulevard Park in Bellingham, Wash., on Tuesday evening June 25, 2013.

Diving Over: Mt. Baker senior quarterback Andrew Zender (11) flips over a Meridian defender on Thursday evening Oct. 31, 2013, in Bellingham, Wash. Mt. Baker defeated Meridian 24-17.

Mt. Baker senior quarterback Andrew Zender (11) flips over a Meridian defender on Thursday evening Oct. 31, 2013, in Bellingham, Wash. Mt. Baker defeated Meridian 24-17. (© Paul Conrad/Paul Conrad Photography) bellingham wedding photographer, bellingham photography

Mt. Baker senior quarterback Andrew Zender (11) flips over a Meridian defender on Thursday evening Oct. 31, 2013, in Bellingham, Wash. Mt. Baker defeated Meridian 24-17. (© Paul Conrad/Paul Conrad Photography)

Artemis the Archer: Ann Benem of Benem’s Body Work portrays the archer Artemis for an upcoming calender

© Paul Conrad/Pablo Conrad Photography - Ashley Benem of Benem's Body Works portrays the Greek goddess Artemis during a photoshoot for a calendar.

Queen Amidala: Crystal von Oy portrays Queen Amidala during the 2013 Emerald City Comicon –

© Paul Conrad/SyFy/Getty ImagesCrystal Von Oy of Mill Creek, Wash., portrays Queen Amidala from Star Wars: Episode 1 - The Phantom Menace during the 2nd day of the Emerald City Comicon in Seattle, Wash., on Saturday Mar. 2, 2013.

Perfect Form:

Shannon blocks a round kick from Alyssa during Muay Thai Camp at Total Confidence Martial Arts in Bellingham –
© Paul Conrad/Pablo Conrad Photography - Arjhan David Neal Brown teaches during the first day the PNW Muay Thai camps at Total Confidence Martial Arts in Bellingham, Wash., on Friday evening Aug. 23, 2013

These may not be “THE BEST,” but they’re my favorite of the year.

Thank you for stopping by to read and view my work. Feel free to comment, critique, or just ask questions.

Also, feel free to share and reblog, link to, and add your site in the comment section.

Paul “pablo” Conrad

Follow me on these various Social Networks:

  1. Instagram: @PaulConradPhotography
  2. Twitter: @pabloconrad
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  4. Pinterest: Paul Conrad Photography

Paul Conrad is an award-winning photographer living in Bellingham north of Seattle, WA, in the Pacific Northwest. His work has been published in newspapers and magazines throughout the United States and in Europe. He is available for assignments anywhere in the Pacific Northwest. Although his specialty is photojournalism covering news, sports, and editorial portraits, he also is skilled in family portraiture, high school senior portraits, and weddings.

© Paul Conrad/Pablo Conrad Photography - The super full Moon rises over a ridge in Whatcom County north of Bellingham, Wash., on Monday July 22, 2013.

A Quick Update and a Few Photos: Mount Baker in Alpenglow

With my photography biz picking up, I’ve been rather busy and have neglected to post new entries.

I’ve got more work from Getty Images, a few local companies have hired me to shoot portraits of their staff and products, getting wedding and engagement inquiries, and have been out shooting my personal stuff. And I’ve kept a day job working in a retail store.

With that being said, you now know why I picked the one photo as the lead photo for this blog. So, I’m going to get the ball rolling and kick this adventure into high gear.

With that being said, here are a few photos from just this past week. On Monday, I chased the super perigee Moon, or “SuperMoon,” while it rose over Whatcom County and Bellingham, Wash.

“Rolling Ball”

© Paul Conrad/Pablo Conrad Photography - A super perigee Moon appears to roll down a hill while rising in the southeaston Monday evening July 22, 2013, in Whatcom County north of Bellingham, Wash.

I was on Ferndale Road watching the light on Mount Baker. The beautiful alpenglow was palpably delicious. I saw a field of potatoes ready for harvest. Their flowered tops flowing in the breeze.

As the Sun set in the northwest, I had my lens focused on Mount Baker to the east. I turned around to see the setting Sun through the wheat grass. I quickly removed my camera from the tripod and shot a few frames. With a wide aperture to capture only the grasses in focus, the Sun appeared as a small orb in the lower left. I also underexposed a few stops to keep the grasses in silhouette.

“Amber Waves of Grain”

© Paul Conrad/Pablo Conrad Photography - The setting Sun silhuoettes wheat grass growing along Ferndale Road in Whatcom County north of Bellingham, Wash., on Monday evening July 22, 2013.

Just moments after the Sun dipped below the horizon, the remain light bathed Mount Baker in a beautiful purple alpenglow. I had to quickly shoot some frames before it disappeared. Just after that, the full Moon began rising above a ridge south of Mount Baker. I could just see the glow of the Moon.

“Purple Mountains Majesty”

© Paul Conrad/Pablo Conrad Photography - The setting Sun alights Mount Baker in alpenglow on Monday evening July 22, 2013.

I repositioned my camera with my telephoto to shoot it. It reminded me of a photo shot by the great photographer Peter Turner called “Rolling Ball.” Photographer Eric Meola wrote about this iconic piece on his blog titled “Finding Pete Turner’s Rolling Ball.”

After shooting that photo, I chased down another opportunity I scoped out earlier in the day: The rising Moon above the old Whatcom County Courthouse. That adventure is for an upcoming post. Nothing like seeing a beautiful, awe-inspiring scene to have it ruined because of the limitations of digital cameras. I’ll update with a link to the blog. But for now, here’s a link to the photograph: Full Moon over the Whatcom Museum.

Here’s a quick view of some future blogs:

•    Before/After: Fixing a Photo
•    Critiquing photos: 3 easy steps to help you learn photography
•    Spray and Pray: Don’t hope you get the shot, plan to get the shot
•    Photo Updates: (Victoria’s Secret, Daily shoots, etc.)
•    What I learned working retail ( I worked at Home Depot for a while).

Thank you for stopping by to read and view my work. Feel free to comment.

Paul “pablo” Conrad

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Tips to Create Good Silhouettes

In response to this week’s The Daily Post for their Weekly Photo Challenge: Silhouettes I’ve re-written and reposted one of my favorite posts.

What Makes a Good Silhouette?

After the Fire: Condo owner Ron Ibara of Aspen, Colo., left, surveys his place while repairing the damage from a fire recently. (© Paul Conrad/Paul Conrad Photography)

A good friend of mine once said to me: “You must be happy, you have your silhouette for the week.” Zach Ornitz said this after seeing a photo of the cleanup from an apartment fire. It is actually a compliment. silhouettes are fun and challenging to shoot.

When I was going to Western Kentucky University, one of the guest lecturers was Washington Post photographer Michael Williamson. He was going over his portfolio and a project he was working on when he said that if you are over stretched and can’t find anything to shoot, go graphic. And what a better way to go graphic than shooting a silhouette.

Bullnanza in Hooper, Utah - Cowboys wait at the chutes during sunset for the bull riding competition to begin during Bullnanza held at the Hooper Arena in Hooper, Utah. (© Paul Conrad/Paul Conrad Photography)

Wikipedia defines a silhouette as: a view of an object or scene consisting of the outline and a featureless interior, with the silhouetted object usually being black.

The term was initially applied in the 18th century to portraits or other pictorial representations cut from thin black card.”

Easing their Horses - Cowboys ride their horses to keep them calm during a show and sale at the Western Kentucky University Agricultural Expo Center in Bowling Green, Ky. (© Paul Conrad/Paul Conrad Photography)

The term is said to be named after French Finance Minister Etienne de Silhouette who liked making the cut-outs of people’s profiles. It was a cheap art form for many of the poor at the time.

Contre-Jour is the technique in photography that is used to create silhouettes. It is simply placing your subject in front of a strong light and exposing for the light. Therefore, your subject becomes black against the lighter background.

Reaching for the Rebound - A girl reaches for a rebound while playing a pick-up game of basketball at a Bowling Green, Ky., park. (© Paul Conrad/Paul Conrad Photography)

They are one of my favorite feature photos to shoot. They’re easy and, yet, challenging and I’ve had more failures than successes. My archives are full of failures. But I keep them to learn from them.

But when one works, it can zing. It’s not just a matter of shooting into a bright light and underexposing, you have to think in terms of elements.

For a silhouette to work, the elements in the composition must not merge. They should be distinct from each other and add to the overall theme of the image. Otherwise, it looks like a big blob rather than anything else.

They must be clean. The main subject(s) should not meld into other subjects and stand on their own. Some of the best seem to be multiple pictures in one.

Some silhouettes will work if there is a slight overlap, but for most, keep them separate. Work the image until you see the elements separate. This may take time, moving, waiting for the moment, or simply pure luck. You may even have to come back and attempt to photograph the scene again.

Although sunrises and sunset are the easiest time of the day, you don’t have to shoot at those times. You can shoot them indoors, outside in the middle of the day, and even at night. You can use a light background. For example, the silhouette of hikers against a mountain range or baseball players against the bright sky.

Practice Makes Perfect - The Aspen High School Skiers baseball team practices at the El Jebel, Colo., baseball diamonds in preparation for their upcoming season. Due to heavy snows that remain on their diamonds, the Skiers head downvalley to practice on the dry fields. (© Paul Conrad/Paul Conrad Photography)

The one thing you must consider is keep the background clean. Again, the key is to keep the elements separate.

It means paying attention to the background and foreground. You may have to lie on the ground, seek a higher vantage point, use a light background, or any method that keeps the image exciting, fresh and different.

Sometimes a little luck goes a long way. When I was interning at the Ogden (Utah) Standard-Examiner, I had an assignment to photograph the Bullnanza in Hooper. It was annual bullriding competition. I arrived about 15 minutes prior to the start and the sun was setting vividly in the west. As I was in the center of the arena taking light measurements, I noticed a group of cowboys at the top of the chutes. On my camera was a 300 f/2.8 lens so I grabbed a few frames before the cowboys dispersed and now you see the result above. It was a lucky shot.

Getting a proper exposure is rather easy. The main thing is to expose for is the main light behind the subjects. Manual exposure mode is best. When in one of the automatic modes, the camera will attempt to compensate for the extra darkness by “overexposing” and you’ll blow out the background, hence, giving your subject some detail. This isn’t always bad. Some detail in you subject can add a little dimension.

Shoot something unique. Sure, shoot some clichés for practice, but go out and find some activities that allow you to shoot something different. There are a multitude of possibilities to make cool silhouettes.

Simply, silhouettes are:

  • Clean
  • Simple
  • No Merging Elemnts
  • Have a Theme
  • Are Fun To Photograph

So go out and have some fun. Shoot to your heart’s content. But most importantly: practice, practice, practice.

Add a link in the comments with your sample of a silhouette that you’ve shot.

Thank you for stopping by and reading. All comments are appreciated.

Paul “pablo” Conrad

Paul Conrad Photography – Bellingham Seattle Photojournalist

“Like” my Page on Facebook

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© Paul Conrad/Pablo Conrad Photography

In Honor of Etienne de Silhouette: Go Out and Shoot Some

In response to this week’s The Daily Post for their Weekly Photo Challenge: Silhouettes I’ve re-written and reposted one of my favorite posts.

What Makes a Good Silhouette?

© Paul Conrad/Pablo Conrad PhotographyCondo owner Ron Ibara of Aspen, Colo., left, surveys his place while repairing the damage from a fire recently.

A good friend of mine once said to me: “You must be happy, you have your silhouette for the week.” Zach Ornitz said this after seeing a photo of the cleanup from an apartment fire. It is actually a compliment. silhouettes are fun and challenging to shoot.

When I was going to Western Kentucky University, one of the guest lecturers was Washington Post photographer Michael Williamson. He was going over his portfolio and a project he was working on when he said that if you are over stretched and can’t find anything to shoot, go graphic. And what a better way to go graphic than shooting a silhouette.

© Paul Conrad/Pablo Conrad Photography - Waiting for the Riding

Wikipedia defines a silhouette as:  a view of an object or scene consisting of the outline and a featureless interior, with the silhouetted object usually being black.

The term was initially applied in the 18th century to portraits or other pictorial representations cut from thin black card.”

© Paul Conrad/Pablo Conrad Photography Cowboys ride their horses during a show and sale at the Western Kentucky University Agricultural Expo Center in Bowling Green, Ky.

The term is said to be named after French Finance Minister Etienne de Silhouette who liked making the cut-outs of people’s profiles. It was a cheap art form for many of the poor at the time.

Contre-Jour is the technique in photography that is used to create silhouettes. It is simply placing your subject in front of a strong light and exposing for the light. Therefore, your subject becomes black against the lighter background.

© Paul Conrad/ Sky Fire Photography A girl reaches for a rebound during a pick-up game of basketball at a Bowling Green, Ky., park.Send Me Your Thoughts and Questions

They are one of my favorite feature photos to shoot. They’re easy and, yet, challenging and I’ve had more failures than successes. My archives are full of failures. But I keep them to learn from them.

But when one works, it can zing. It’s not just a matter of shooting into a bright light and underexposing, you have to think in terms of elements.

For a silhouette to work, the elements in the composition must not merge. They should be distinct from each other and add to the overall theme of the image. Otherwise, it looks like a big blob rather than anything else.

They must be clean. The main subject(s) should not meld into other subjects and stand on their own. Some of the best seem to be multiple pictures in one.

Some silhouettes will work if there is a slight overlap, but for most, keep them separate. Work the image until you see the elements separate. This may take time, moving, waiting for the moment, or simply pure luck. You may even have to come back and attempt to photograph the scene again.

Although sunrises and sunset are the easiest time of the day, you don’t have to shoot at those times. You can shoot them indoors, outside in the middle of the day, and even at night. You can use a light background.  For example, the silhouette of hikers against a mountain range.

© Paul Conrad/Pablo Conrad Photography - Aspen Santa Fe Ballet dancers prepare for a  studio session by legendary photographer Lois Greenfield at the ASF studio in Aspen, Colo

The one thing you must consider is keep the background clean. Again, the key is to keep the elements separate.

It means paying attention to the background and foreground. You may have to lie on the ground, seek a higher vantage point, use a light background, or any method that keeps the image exciting, fresh and different.

Sometimes a little luck goes a long way. When I was interning at the Ogden (Utah) Standard-Examiner, I had an assignment to photograph the Bullnanza in Hooper. It was annual bullriding competition. I arrived about 15 minutes prior to the start and the sun was setting vividly in the west. As I was in the center of the arena taking light measurements, I noticed a group of cowboys at the top of the chutes. On my camera was a 300 f/2.8 lens so I grabbed a few frames before the cowboys dispersed and now you see the result above. It was a lucky shot.

© Paul Conrad/Pablo Conrad Photography- Practice

Getting a proper exposure is rather easy. The main thing is to expose for is the main light behind the subjects. Manual exposure mode is best.  When in one of the automatic modes, the camera will attempt to compensate for the extra darkness by “overexposing” and you’ll blow out the background, hence, giving your subject some detail. This isn’t always bad. Some detail in you subject can add a little dimension.

Shoot something unique. Sure, shoot some clichés for practice, but go out and find some activities that allow you to shoot something different. There are a multitude of possibilities to make cool silhouettes.

Simply, silhouettes are:

  • Clean
  • Simple
  • No Merging Elemnts
  • Have a Theme
  • Are Fun To Photograph

So go out and have some fun. Shoot to your heart’s content. But most importantly: practice, practice, practice.

Add a link in the comments with your sample of a silhouette that you’ve shot.

Thank you for stopping by and reading. All comments are appreciated.

Paul “pablo” Conrad

Pablo Conrad Photography

“Like” my Page on Facebook

Follow me on Twitter