Focus on Travel Photography

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In photography, the simplest and most effective way to reveal a shape is by creating a silhouette. You can use silhouettes in your travel pictures to dramatize subjects whenever shape is more important than form or texture, or just to jazz up your slide shows.

To create silhouettes, simply put an opaque object in front of a bright background and expose for the background. Any brightly colored surface will work: a glittering gold sea at sunset, a cheerful colored wall, or even the illuminated glass wall of an aquarium. Alas, intriguing subjects and colorful backgrounds don't just appear when you want them to. You'll have to use your artistic eye to spot the potential of a bright background and then hunt around until you match it with a suitable foreground subject.

Look for subjects that have a bold and simple shape. It's important, too, that the subject be entirely surrounded by the bright background. A fisherman on the beach at sunrise will produce a clearly identifiable shape, but fishing boats lined up too closely in a row may merge into a dark clump.

Exposing for silhouettes is fairly simple; as with sunsets, a variety of exposures will produce good results. If your camera has an averaging meter (as do most point-and-shoots), be sure to skew the viewfinder toward the brighter area and then use your exposure-lock feature to hold that exposure. If you have a DSLR with a spot-metering feature, take a reading of just the bright area and then bracket in half- or full-stop increments toward overexposure.

Next: "Lights at Night"