Tuesday 9 February 2010

Silky Slick Silhouettes

Hellooooooo and welcome back to SAFFAscapes...

For today's post I decided to do something different - something which is not exactly what you would call HDR. But, after all, I am a photographer and I don't only do HDR, it's just one of the fun techniques I play around with.

I am posting a few very different silhouette photos today. Silhouettes can either rock the house or they bomb out and fizzle into nothing - depending on what you choose to portray and how that image leans itself to lines, texture and simplicity.

The first shot is one that was taken late one afternoon on a dune in the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park. A herd of oryx was grazing peacefully, minding their own business, as the sun was setting behind them in the little piece of blissful serenity which is called the Kalahari desert.

(click on the photo for a larger view)

 The second shot was taken in the town where I live at a local duck pond. The smog from the factories drifts past the sun on many evenings, creating a hazy, smoky scene which makes normal photography very challenging when you're waiting for that sweet golden light of sunset as the sun is hidden behind the smog. This time it didn't make a difference...I was ready. I had spotted a section of the willow tree on the island in the middle of the pond where I could capture a bird roosting on a perch with the sun directly behind it. Many afternoons I had hoped for the perfect bird to sit on the perfect perch with the perfect combination of smog and clouds. And on that day - it was there! I do wish that I'd had my longer lens at the time as this is quite a crop to get the other birds and branches out of the frame...

(click on the photo for a larger view)
I personally love these 2 photos. Finding the right scene for your silhouette is half the battle. Composing in camera is another 30%. Processing right afterwards makes up the rest.

Sticking with birds...I also want to show you a silhouette I captured sometime last year of a black-headed heron flying in to roost for the night at the same local duck pond.

(click on the photo for a larger view)

I like how the dramatic clouds and sunset colours add poignancy to the bird's pose.

The fourth photo I want to share was taken early one morning at the entrance gate to the rest camp in the Augrabies Falls National Park. The falls are currently flooding after some intense rains and I wish I could be there now! The quiver tree is quite a landmark in the Northern Cape and Namibia. Rugged. Hardy. Lonely. These words all describe this beautiful tree, yet none of them really describes it to one who has never seen them. 

This is the silhouetted quiver tree shot as I have adjusted it from the camera - in other words - as shot with a bit of natural tweaking:

(click on the photo for a larger view)

Notice how the texture and shape of the quiver trees make for a lot of eye-candy.

Now - let's see where creativity can take us...

Getting a bit more creative, I also used a little Photoshop magic on the photo posted above - I copied the silhouette of the flying heron into the quiver tree photo and created a piece of 'visual art'. I don't mind when people play around creatively with their photos in Photoshop - one should just always make mention of the fact that the photo has been 'shopped' (that is to say - one has gone beyond the boundaries of enhancing what is already naturally in the photo by adding elements and transforming the photo into something else). I also boosted the colours of the quiver tree shot a lot to add to the visual impact of the silhouettes.

Here is my final result. I call it "Quivering Landing". I would REALLY like to know what you think of this one, whether you enjoyed it or whether you think I've "crossed the line too far". :)

(click on the photo for a larger view)

There you have it! Hopefully I've inspired you to go and look out for some stunning silhouettes in your area, or on your next holiday.

Until next time...keep capturing those moments in time...

Morkel Erasmus  


  1. I think "Quivering Landing" is beyond stunning!
    congratulations on a job well done!

  2. Well done Morkel great images my favourites are the second shot with the sunsetting and the quiver landscape is just stunning
    love your work

  3. Nice shots all round Morkel. My favorite is the perched bird in front of the sun. It's a timeless classic and very nicely presented.

    As for 'Quivering Landing' I reckon it is a great piece of 'digital art' - meaning that there is no such thing as crossing the line. There is only you creating something, whether people like it or not.

    Creativity is making something from nothing, presenting your vision and you have done this very well.

    Short version - Great shot all round! :)

  4. thanks so much for the kind comments everybody!

  5. Deneys - Congrats on the image Morkel. I too love the bird Silhouettes.