silhouette wall art

by Mary Jane

Post image for silhouette wall art

When I’m photographing, I usually like to stay away from too many shadows, from the dark & murky, from the unknown… When I think of photographs – I always think of light. And the more, the merrier.

But, I got to thinking… There is always surprising beauty in doing something different; in breaking the mold of what you’ve always done.

So, I did it.

I took away the light and I let the darkness tell the story.

It’s completely amazing to me that something so dark, created something so sweet. I love the way the silhouette contours their sweet button noses, whisps of hair and chubby cheeks. And it does it in a way that light could never do.

This is really so simple to do – this is how I did it!

1.) Start with a fairly dark room – as dark as you can get it and still focus your camera.
2.) Put your subject against a white wall or hang a white sheet for the background.
3.) Position your light behind your subject – you could use a lamp without the shade and a really bright bulb.
4.) Expose for the bright light behind your subject.
5.) In post production, crop the head, convert to b&w & REALLY bump up the contrast!
6.) If you need to touch up – use a white/black paint brush.

Here is the set up I used – I know not everyone has a light box under their bed – but don’t let that stop you.

Here is the original shot that I got:

After cropping, converting to b&w and bumping up the contrast – I re-sized it and placed it on a 16×20 image for printing.

Here is Paxton – he looks a little like Mr. Magoo. :)

Here is the before of our wall…

Here is the after.


{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Liz July 16, 2012 at 9:01 pm

This is a great idea!! Thanks so much for sharing :) I have a question about your lighting/backdrop. Did you have them stand right in front of your softbox? Or is it your softbox with a piece of white paper in front of it? Do you have a strobe in the softbox that fired? I’m wondering how bright the light was. Thanks!

Mary Jane July 17, 2012 at 3:33 am

Hi there! Yes, I placed them right in front of the softbox…so the white of the softbox was the actual background. And I didn’t use strobe, just fluorescent bulbs for continuous lighting. The light was fairly bright – but could have been brighter. The more light, the better! Good luck! I’d love to see what you do!

Liz July 18, 2012 at 12:37 am

I have a few more questions– Did you use a white brush around the entire white part to make it pure white? Mine looks grayish to me. Also, I’m semi new to PS– how do you create the white matte that you placed your photo on top of? Thanks so much!! I can’t wait to get my kids’ in some frames!

Mary Jane July 18, 2012 at 4:40 pm

Hey Liz! To create the matte just make a new image with a white background – and make it whatever size you want to print. I made my 16×20 – then I dragged the silhouette onto it. I definitely had some gray too, so I used a white paint brush to get rid of it. But, first make sure you really try to bump up the exposure and contrast to get it as white as you can… It’s actually easier to color in the black, than the white.

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