Silhouettes establish shape yet making the image dramatic and mysterious. Silhouettes are very powerful and aesthetic means of shape. ‘Silhouettes with an unknown shape are more interesting and thought provoking than the known shapes. Silhouetted shapes in front of a building or portraits (arches, corridors, pillars etc.) generate greater power of perspective in landscape and people shots. They are communicative, emotional and beautiful in the pictures.’ – KL Raja P0nsing

Here is a collection of beautiful silhouettes from the learners of Ambitions 4 Photography Academy. It is a mixed bag of images from our Edexcel BTEC HNC and HND Diploma in Photography programme learners and also a few from our Basic DSLR Photography – weekend course participants. How to try easy silhouettes – tips by Mr.KL. Raja Ponsing – founder and director of Ambitions 4 Photography Academy will help you shoot interesting silhouette pictures. Enjoy the gallery.

links:  How to try easy silhouettes – tips by Mr.KL. Raja Ponsing

How to try easy silhouettes?

Indian cormorant

Indian cormorant, Munnar

  1. Find subjects with strong and definite shapes
  2. Use bright backlight eg. sun set or sun rise
  3. Choose to use spot metering or partial  metering and take the exposure reading from the background in case of sunrise, the bright sky or clouds
  4. Under expose the shot by one or two stops exposure for brilliant and strong colours.
  5. Focus on the subject carefully and let the edge of the shape is really sharp

    St. Augustine Church

    Ruins of St. Augustine Church, Goa

  6. Include some interesting foreground elements like shapely trees/buildings and let it get in the sky area of the shot.
  7. Try waiting for few birds or other activities as a part of the sky. This will avoid the emptiness and make the sky interesting

    Brihadeeshwarar temple Tanjavur Peria Koil

    Brihadeeshwarar temple, Tanjore

  8. If it is a twilight shot consider using a stable tripod to avoid camera shake.
  9. Avoid including moving objects while shooting in dawn. Birds in flight give a kind of blurry patches
  10. Consider off-shooting colours by shifting the white balance intentionally in to warm of cold feel. You can shoot using shade white balance and move the cursor in the white balance shift to amber side for warm silhouettes. Choosing to shoot in tungsten and move the cursor in the white balance shift to blue side for colder silhouettes.
  11. Shoot in RAW for better image variations through Camera Raw correction software.

    Shore temple - Mahabalipuram

    Shore temple, Mahabalipuram

for more examples of silhouettes click

Food photography – green tea

green tea demo shoot

Green Tea – Table top set up – Studio Practical class

The session to shoot green tea in a cup and saucer was a great experience when I demonstrated shooting food in the studio for our BTEC level 5 learners. We visualized the tea in a transparent cup placed on the saucer. We thought it would be better to show a piece of cut lemon and mint leaves as supporting elements.

It was a high key feel we wanted to achieve. Everything went on well and we started with a transparent base and back lighting to show green tea to be appetizing. The tea was diluted enough to show the transparency. The first test shot showed the lemon and mint really dark and non-appetizing.

We then planned for a narrow light source using a 10-degree grid from the sides to fall on the lemon and mint leaves. Another narrow light source was placed from behind the mint leaves to show its texture and glow. All the three lights were moved & fine-tuned carefully to avoid any spots or specular highlights on the cup and saucer.

studio practical class

We rotated the cup carefully to show it’s interesting shape. In the next shot, the high light from the rim of cup reflecting in the green tea created confusion. To avoid the reflection, we did move the main light source carefully on to our right.

Almost closer to the final shot, I suggested my students to get a kind of gentle texture /shadow feel in acrylic base. This of course will break the monotony of the plain white in the base. This had to be achieved without spoiling the feel of high key. The learners were instructed to place a transparent plain glass on the work-table and spread a plain white satin cloth randomly with a graphical pattern and then placed the white acrylic sheet on the satin cloth. The whole set of base was lit from the bottom by a 10 degree grid.

We decided to go for the available light shot using the modeling lamp of the studio flash. This gave us better control of light and shadow on the base of the cup. The camera was tilted a bit to get the dynamic feel. A long exposure of 6 seconds was selected. The camera’s mirror was up and the shot is done by remotely Controlling the camera from the computer.

K L.Raja Ponsing

green tea

Elephant’s perspective

The other-side of Photography

elephant ride

The Elephant is always an animal I wonder and observe. I used to dream about riding on an elephant’s back from my child hood. The day came when I went with our bunch of BTEC level 5 students for a photography tour to Wayanad, Kerala. Though I love to be on the elephant’s back, there was an inner fear mixed with excitement when my students insisted me to go for a ride.

With my professional DSLR on my shoulders, I sat on the huge animal with the pride of a King. The point of view from the top was something I saw for the first time in my life. As the elephant moved in action, the jerk on all sides reminded me to be careful. The idea to take few shots from the top of the elephant became secondary. I could feel the huge shoulder bones of the animal moving below my thighs. Before…

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How to get maximum sharpness in your shots?

Sharpness - coorg

Sharpness illustrated at Tibetan Monastery – Coorg by KL Raja Ponsing

  1. Use good optical quality lenses
  2. Avoid using poor quality filters in front of the lenses
  3. Use manual selection of AF points and AF lock
  4. Use stable tripod while shooting in slow shutter speeds
  5. Use remote shutter release
  6. Use self-timer for still subjects
  7. Use mirror-up option for long exposure shots
  8. Switch off IS/VR controls when the camera is on the tripod
  9. Use lowest possible ISO settings
  10. Use continuous shooting mode for hand held shots
  11. Use reciprocal of the focal length of the lens as the minimum shutter speed for hand held shots.
  12. Zoom in LCD to check the sharpness of the image
  13. Hold the camera firm and use stable posture while shooting. Lean on stable bases like walls or pillars if necessary
  14. Use hard light with good light and shadow effects.
  15. Shoot in RAW to manage the sharpness in Camera RAW image editor.
  16. Use ‘Unsharp’ mask’ in photo shop – People shots (Amount 160%, Radius 01 and Threshold 10). Landscapes and building shots (Amount 70%, Radius 03 and Threshold 2). General subjects (Amount 90%, Radius 01 and Threshold 4).
Sharpness - monastry

Sharpness illustrated at Tibetan Monastery – Coorg by KL Raja Ponsing