Roll #3: Silhouettes

Why you are doing this assignment

This is the point in the semester when you should start to become aware of how your cameraʻs light meter measures light, and what it is telling you when it suggests a certain combination of shutter speed and aperture. In this case, you are looking for a specific lighting situation that will cause your light meter to suggest a setting that will result in a silhouette. The point of this assignment is to learn to recognize such lighting situations, so that you know ahead of time what kind of negatives and prints will result from it. Sometimes you want to create a silhouette and sometimes not; this assignment should give you the ability to control the look of your final prints.

How to do this assignment

Point your camera at the sky, or at something just as bright, such as the side of a white building. Position yourself so that between you and the sky are some objects that form an interesting pattern.

What to shoot

Branches, the railings along a stairway, a wire fence – any object that allows your camera to see through to the sky and that creates an interesting pattern.

For this assignment, avoid photographing people. Shoot through interesting objects, either man-made or natural.

CAUTION: never allow sunlight to directly hit the front of your lens when you take a photo. It’s bad for your light meter and it ruins your shots. Shoot with the sun behind you or off to one side.

What to turn in

Turn in your folder with the most recent project on top. For this week, turn in the following, in this order:

  • An analysis sheet of your one best image. The analysis sheet should always be the first page of the folder, so that I know what assignment I am looking at.
  • A contact sheet with at least 20 visible images related to the assignment, and with the two best images circled. Use a non-black sharpie.
  • Two 5X7 prints of your two best images. Mount the prints with tape loops on plain white paper so that the tape does not show. Punch holes in the paper, not the prints.

What your assignment should look like

If there is a lot of bright sky in your image, the light meter will measure that and will give you a reading that will produce a beautiful image of the sky, showing all the details of the clouds. If some (relatively) darker objects are in front of the sky — like a railing or some branches — they will come out completely black, like they have been cut out of black paper. They will be silhouettes! This assignment is asking you to create an interesting (black) pattern against something very light (probably the sky).

CHALLENGE: See if you can create such an interesting pattern that people at first cannot tell what you have photographed. A good work of art often contains ambiguity, or sometimes a puzzle for the viewer to solve.

By the way, we call dark areas in a print the shadows and we call the bright areas the highlights.