When Shooting Against The Light Makes Sense – Creating Silhouettes

Thai dancer silhouette
Veiled Thai dancer silhouetted against the light

Ever taken a photo of someone only to discover the result is a photo of a black outline of your subject against a bright background? Congratulations! You’ve just taken a silhouette photo!

After making this mistake several times, most of us quickly learn not to shoot directly into the sun. As a matter of fact, we’re told to keep the sun behind us. But purposely taking silhouettes can be fun and result in some dramatic images. So, rather than ‘fix’ our mistake, why not learn how to use it to our advantage?

Silhouettes are commonly caused when your camera adjusts exposure to the bright background, rather than on your subject.

Samples of Silhouette Photography
Two silhouette photos

Due to their simplicity, silhouettes are a wonderful way to convey drama and mystery in a photo. Best of all, they’re really quite simple to create. Basically, you’ll want to place your subject in front of a strong source of light. Doing so will cause your subject to be underexposed to the point of being very dark, if not black, against the lighter-colored background.

You can create a silhouette of almost anything, but to be successful, it’s important to choose something with a distinct, recognizable shape. Put some thought into choosing your subject beforehand, and try to imagine what the resulting shot will look like.

Lampost silhouettes
Lamp posts silhoueted against the sky

Location is also an important consideration when photographing silhouettes. When choosing a location to shoot, try to ensure that you have a lot of open space. The goal is to avoid extraneous elements that could clutter your shot, and distract from your subject.

Perhaps most important of all, you need to make sure that you have more light behind your subject than in front of it. The easiest way to start is by placing your subject directly in front of a strong light source – the sun, a lit window, or even a lamp. However, your subject doesn’t necessarily have to be directly in front of a light source. What’s important is ensuring they’re positioned so that they truly stand out from the background.

B&W Boat Hulls
Silhouette of boat hulls in black & white

Finally, to produce the best silhouette shots, make sure your subject is in focus. This will ensure that the edges of the silhouette are crisp and distinct.

Talented Malaysian Fashion Photographer Is On The Rise

Bibo Aswan - freelance fashion photographer
Bibo Aswan – freelance fashion photographer

A self-confessed introvert, Malaysian photographer Bibo Aswan is modest about his successes as a fashion photographer. However, his photographs – edgy, loud, and bold – are in complete contrast with his quiet personality.

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Bibo’s says his preferred subjects are models as he finds something compelling and interesting about human movement, as well as the dynamic shapes and strong features of the models.

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While pursuing a diploma in photography at Limkokwing University, Bibo created his initial portfolio by using the other students as his models. He then used social media to post his photos and expose his work to the masses. This successfully led to people contacting him asking for quotes and requesting him to shoot their collection – launching his career.

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Having his work featured in a number of renowned local publications quickly gained him industry-wide attention and built his reputation as a hard-working photographer with a creative flair.

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Bibo has become one of Malaysia’s preferred photographers to shoot fashion editorial spreads.

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June Photo Opportunity: Korea’s Most Popular Festival

Lights at Gangneung Danoje Festival
Lights at Gangneung Danoje Festival during night

Korea’s annual Gangneung Danoje (The Gangneung Danoje Festival) is one of the most popular holidays in the nation, and a great time to capture photos of Korean culture.The festival takes place annually the fifth day of the fifth month in the town of Gangneung, Gangwon Province, Korea.

Masked Dancers at Gangneung Danoje Festival
Masked Dancers at Gangneung Danoje Festival

The Gangneung Danoje Festival features traditional games and activities that provides photographers with myriad opportunities for photos.

Women washing hair at Gangneung Danoje Festival
Women washing hair at Gangneung Danoje Festival

The festival include folk games such as the swing and ssireum (Korean wrestling), and other practices such as washing one’s hair in sweet Iris-infused water, eating surichwi tteok (rice cakes made with marsh plant), making Dano fans, and decorating masks.

Male dancer at Gangneung Danoje Festival
Male dancer at Gangneung Danoje Festival

Gangneung Danoje’s roots lie in the worship of the guardian spirit of the mountain that protects the town, and to pray for the peace and prosperity of all families living in the town.

Traditional dancers at the Gangneung Danoje Festival
Traditional dancers performing at the Gangneung Danoje Festival

Thai Photographer Exposes The Truth Behind Instagram Photos

Yoga in the Park - from the series 'Slowlife'
Yoga in the Park – from the series ‘Slowlife’

Instagram has taken the world by storm, with millions trying to get ‘likes’ for the creativity, aesthetic, and – dare I say it – ‘perfectness’ of their uploaded photos.

Bike - from the series 'Slowlife'
Bike – from the series ‘Slowlife’

Many others use the photos they upload to Instagram to create an impression how amazing their life is.

Idyllic Beach - from the series 'Slowlife'
Idyllic Beach – from the series ‘Slowlife’

With all the attention garnered by the photos on Instagram, much has been made about the myriad filters available for people to use in creating their Instagram masterpieces. Thai photographer Chompoo Baritone took a different approach in a series of humorous images exposing how many of those ‘perfect’ Instagram photos could have been created with simple cropping.

Laptop on bed - from the series 'Slowlife'
Laptop on bed – from the series ‘Slowlife’

The Bangkok-based photographer’s series ‘Slowlife’, pokes fun at these types of ‘impeccable’ lifestyle images on Instagram by highlighting just how easy it is to fake a beautiful lifestyle with some creative cropping.

Portrait - from the series 'Slowlife'
Portrait – from the series ‘Slowlife’

Having studied photography at King Mongkut’s Institute of Technology Ladkrabang in Thailand, Baritone has a good eye for how things can be staged. Her ‘Slowiife’ series is a strong argument for how cropping and the use of filters can turn mundane situations into photos of seemingly extraordinary lifestyles!

Foodporn from the series 'Slowlife'
Foodporn from the series ‘Slowlife’

While created with a humorous intent, Baritone’s work is actually a great case study for amateur photographers. “Slowlife” clearly highlights the effects cropping can have when creating a a photo.

Easy to Reach Photo Spots in Sydney

Sydney: Twilight
Sydney cityscape from the ocean at Twilight (Photo by Jason James / CC-BY)

Sydney is a beautiful city, and offers many attractions for both pro and amateur photographers. If you ever find yourself in the city with a few hours to wander about, there are several photo locations to choose from that are in or near the Central Business District (CBD).

Sydney Opera House by Night
Sydney Opera House by Night (Photo by Nicki Mannix / CC-BY)

The most visited place in Australia and without any doubt one of the most photographed buildings in the world, the Sydney Opera House is spectacular. You can shoot it from a lot of spots and different angles, and it’s especially beautiful at sunrise and sunset.

The Royal Botanic Gardens - Sydney, Australia
The Royal Botanic Gardens – Sydney, Australia (Photo by David Berkowitz / CC-BY)

Close by, Sydney’s huge Royal Botanic Gardens are a great place to get photos of historic buildings, statues, ponds, flowers, birds, and more. There’s also a small bay (‘Farm Cove’) where you can get great shots of the city skyline.

Sydney Harbor Bridge
Sydney Harbor Bridge during the day (Photo by Alastair Gilfillan / CC-BY)

Also close to the Opera house, the Harbor Bridge makes for many wonderful shots. Due to it’s size, it can be photographed from several locations, one of the most popular being Hickson Road Reserve. From here you can get great photos of the Harbour Bridge with iconic Luna Park in the background.

Circular Quay and the Rocks
Circular Quay and the Rocks, Sydney (Photo by RubyGoes / CC-BY)

Circular Quay is the main harbor port area, used by many of the ferries. While you’ll find lots of people wandering around here, it’s another location where you can take some stunning cityscape photos.

Queen Victoria Building
Queen Victoria Building, Sydney (Photo by Nicki Mannix / CC-BY)

If you’re interested in architectural photography, head over to the Queen Victoria Building. This shopping center is housed in a refurbished building that is really stunning. Step inside, and I guaranteed you’ll want to take some shots.


Many first-time travellers to Asia, particularly those on business, have asked about easily accessible photo opportunities in the cities they visit. This post is part of an ongoing series, each on a different Asian city, introducing a few photo locations for visitors with limited time.

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