Drawing with Light

Photography:  derived from the Greek photos (“light”) and graphein (“to draw”). ¹

If you think about it, light is both the subject and the paintbrush for most photographic work. It can help bathe a subject in color or brilliance, bringing out every detail – or, when a light source is behind a subject, it can actually obscure the features of the image. Silhouettes are wonderful images of a different sort.

When I take pictures, I’m now learning to pay attention to the sources and values of light in my viewfinder.  It used to be that I was just trying to capture a face, a place, or a moment.

On a recent paddle down the Lieutenant River when tides were high, we came to these branches dragging in the water, and commented on the shapes outlined by their silhouette. Do you see a duck? A fish? An arrow? Anything else?

One fun aspect of photography is learning to use settings to capture the same subject in different light. With new digital options, we can even do this after the fact.  Walking on the Air Line Trail one overcast afternoon, I captured the near silhouette of two trees, with just a small splash of color from the leaves.  Using software later, I was able to enhance the image…  which do you prefer?

I can remember, when we were children, shining a light against our profiles, and tracing the outline of one another’s features onto a paper taped to the wall behind us. We cut out the outlines to create silhouettes.  Now, using our cameras, we can use light to create shadow images of a different sort.

The results can be wonderful!


This post was written in response to the Weekly Photo Challenge on WordPress.com’s Daily Post. This week’s challenge topic is Silhouette. To learn more about the challenge and to see the large images posted by other bloggers, click here.

Here’s an earlier post on this topic, with  other backlit images:   https://theretiringsort.com/2012/08/24/travel-theme-silhouette/


This entry was posted in Photo Challenges, Ruminations and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

23 Responses to Drawing with Light

  1. I like the brighter one. Beautiful colors! What editing program do you use?


  2. Madhu says:

    I like the dark one too! Neat post TRS 🙂


  3. teedeevee says:

    If you turn the first photo 90 degrees left you will see my Eiffel tower (or a tent) 🙂 As for the other two, I like them both. The first is very moody and the second one I like the texture that comes out and the forest in the background is more visible but both are great.


  4. Lisaman says:

    Love the branches in the river and the other 2 not sure which one is better…they both have a place..interesting!!


  5. eof737 says:

    Excellent explanations… It sheds more light on the subject for me TY! 🙂


  6. Jo Bryant says:

    That is a hard one…both images give you something different but both are appealing


  7. Pingback: Weekly Photo Challenge: Silhouette « patriciaddrury

  8. bulldogsturf says:

    Gosh I enjoy that first photo… really good…


  9. SimplySage says:

    I use editing software to make the photo more true to life. Each of my cameras brings out a different aspect. I have used up to three different cameras at times! When I bring the photos up on the computer I’m amazed at the differences each captured. I try to narrow down to one camera but each has an advantage over the others. So I use the software to make the image look as true to my eye as possible. But it’s fun to play with the results. I love the silhouette with the slight color of the orange leaf. Classy.


    • Thanks – I have 2 cameras, and sometimes use them both when we travel (with different settings), because it takes time to change settings and I don’t want to lose the moment. In the boat or on walks I usually just take a very small inexpensive point & shoot, though… Isn’t playing with photos later fun? 😉


  10. Amy says:

    It’s fun to use the software to crop and brighten photos. The compositions is still up to the photographer, maybe (?).


  11. Ruth Bailey says:

    I like the first silhouette of the trees better than your enhanced image. The photo has a moodiness to it, coming from the lowering clouds. The flash of color coming from the leftover leaves creates a sense of story.


  12. As well as our camera we can also enhance and crop pictures using a simple photo editing programme. May be cheating but life’s too short 🙂 Love your photo of the branches


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