5 Frames Of Black And White Silhouettes | By Himanshu Singh Gurjar

Himanshu Singh Gurjar is a filmmaker and photographer from Jodhpur, Rajasthan. The following article features excerpts from our conversation with him.

Why Silhouettes?

One, because it makes things simple. You get back to the basics and focus only on things that matter most: composition, the play of light and shadows. When done properly, it looks very clean and minimal. Silhouettes are very soothing to the eyes. You don’t need an expensive camera to create silhouettes, and things that are ordinarily a constraint - like harsh light - can be worked to your advantage. In fact the harsh light that you see at noon is actually better for creating silhouettes.

Like any other kinds of images, the more you click, the more you’ll start to see silhouettes.

How did the idea for silhouettes come to you?

When I started my journey as a street photographer, it happened on the camera on its own . I was fascinated by how clean and cinematic it looked, and I deliberately photographed only silhouettes for the next thirty days. I started enjoying the process so much that I would often “see” silhouettes or instances where a subject was lit from behind, I would quickly underexpose the subject and take a photograph. I have lost count how many I’ve taken over the years.

What camera do you use for your images?

The ones you’re seeing were shot using a Canon 600D, with a 50mm prime and a 55-250mm zoom lens.

“It’s a busy subway that literally hundreds of people cross at this time of the day. Somehow, this fell in place - the lady was walking right in the center and there were absolutely no other people.”

“It’s a busy subway that literally hundreds of people cross at this time of the day. Somehow, this fell in place - the lady was walking right in the center and there were absolutely no other people.”

What is the key to creating a good silhouette?

Silhouettes are created when a subject or multiple elements are blocking the light from coming into the lens. The rule of silhouette is that the source of light must be in the background. By underexposing our subject from the front, we get a good silhouette. Apart from that, the extreme contrast is what give silhouettes their charm, so there has to be that.

Silhouettes also look like they’re created using graphics because of how clean and minimal they look.

Black and white or Colour?

Both have their charm. It actually depends on the theme I’m photographing. In the case of silhouettes I go with black and white because they’re great at capturing emotion. But I often shoot in colour and then process them as black and white because you never know what you might end up getting. So it’s good to have that option. When it comes to colour, everything has to be right. The various colours in the frame need to go well with each other or create a good contrast against one another and the light has to be perfect. Doing black and white is getting back to the basics - framing, highlight and shadows - that sort of thing. You don’t have to worry about your subject is wearing or what they look like.


A little on camera settings when you’re photographing silhouettes…

With the aperture, I use f/8 or f/9, for it (the images) to look more sharp. And because you’re not worried about excess light - you can also shoot using a higher shutter speed. This way, the edges of the photograph remain sharp.

What kind of post-processing do you do for these?

There’s not much post-processing but I usually boost shadows, slightly enhance the contrast, brighten the image a little bit or fix the crop, if required. I do a little bit of sharpening too because you’re not seeing the image on a bigger screen when it comes to Instagram. The images are usually lower in quality so I sharpen them so they can stand out.

I research before going to any particular location and search for relevant pictures on Pinterest or Instagram. This helps me visualize something or come across a perspective I wouldn’t normally have thought of.

Himanshu Singh works and resides in Mumbai. You can hit him up on Instagram: @himanshusinghgurjar

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Editor: Rishabh Udgata