Striking Silhouettes for Visual Impact

by Kerry Drager

Here’s my daughter-in-law posing and having fun in the dramatic evening sunlight at Morro Strand State Beach, CA Coast. (Thanks, Kim!) This image, by the way, is part of my “Figure in the Scenery” series, in which the subject serves solely as a design element, as opposed to being a close-up and identifiable star of the picture.


Picture Details: F/10 @ 1/1500th second. 100 ISO. 24-85mm zoom lens set at 44mm.

Photo Strategy: The extreme bright-vs.-dark backlighting was ideal for spotlighting Kim’s form — via silhouette. For shooting, I used a continuous “burst” mode in order to fire off a rapid series of pictures. Along with a fast shutter speed, that technique helps ensure hand-holding sharpness while also helping to catch the peak of the action. In addition, I set my zoom lens for VR (Vibration Reduction).

Silhouetting Tip: Make sure the main areas of your silhouetted subject are set against lighter tones. You want to minimize the amount of merging between  dark subject and the dark parts of the background. That’s what makes a silhouette really out in a photo!

My B&W workflow: The lighting contrast combined with little color also made for ideal black-and-white conditions. I first processed the Raw color image in Adobe Camera Raw. Then I converted it to B&W in Photoshop CC (Image > Adjustments > Black and White). The picture was fine-tuned with red and other B&W filters.

Like what you see? Check out Kerry’s website: …  Also see his classes and workshops


Creative Close-ups: Abstract Abalone Shell Design!

by Kerry Drager

Moving in super close on a subject can be very cool and very colorful … and very intriguing, too!

I found this excellent abalone shell at a coastal shop and quickly purchased it. At home, I placed the shell on a deck railing — with soft natural light from shade. And, with my DSLR camera and a macro lens, I photographed the shell’s abstract pattern of intricate details and bold colors.


Above photo: Abalone Shell Design … Nikon D4 (full-frame DSLR). f/22 @ 1/8th second. 100 ISO. 105mm macro lens.

Although the shell was mostly flat, there was still a curve to it, and with extreme close-ups, even a slight amount of depth is a factor! As a result, I chose the small aperture (f/22) in order to produce as much depth-of-field (front-to-back sharpness) as possible. As always with stationary scenes, I used a tripod in order to obtain maximum image quality and also to fine-tune the composition in order to get it just the way I wanted it (so no post-cropping needed).

Below Photo: Here’s a quick snapshot that shows the overall scene. After shooting this, I used a macro lens to fill the frame with the colorful design.


Like what you see? Check out Kerry’s website:   … Also see his classes and workshops…