I have mentioned before just how powerful images can be if you ignore the old advice from Kodak to, “Always have the sun behind you”. Images where you point the camera towards the sun, or other bright light, are called “contre-jour” from the French for “against the day”. It’s best to keep the direct light of the sun out of view in this type of image as it can reduce image contrast. It’s also safer, because looking directly at the sun can be dangerous.
This image of a statue at Greenwich Observatory in London was taken with a Panasonic FZ-50 superzoom compact. It shows how this technique can reduce shadow detail, and often produces a silhouette. The cobwebs need cleaning off, and the pigeon on his hat is the final indignity.
This is a sort of anti-silhouette. It’s of an aircraft canopy shot at an aircraft museum in California. Shooting into the light has shown the wonderful pattern of scratches on the Perspex, and there’s a great highlight curve at the top. The background was in shadow so has rendered very dark.
Another shot from the same museum. It’s of the tail of an in flight refuelling plane. Turning it into a silhouette has taken away the context and it makes it harder to tell what it is, especially as the tail is more complex than a regular aircraft. Adding a bit of mystery to images is a good thing.
This image is a bit mysterious too. It’s actually of a sculpture in a garden. I used a simple compact digital camera, and dropped down low to get lots of sky in the composition. I made sure that the sun was behind one of the axe shapes to reduce flare. I increased the contrast a bit in Photoshop to make it punchier.
This final image does not have the sun in it, but does have very bright sunlight reflecting off wet sand. It’s a contre-jour landscape image taken at Brandy Cove on the Gower Peninsular in South Wales. I really liked the interlocking shapes made by the silhouetted rocks, the pools of water, and the variations of brightness across the glistening sand.
Get out with your cameras on a sunny day and have a great time playing with this technique.