Sydney Skyline Sunset Silhouette

This image was fun to edit because it differed from a lot of my other work where I try to create as much dynamic range throughout the image as possible using multiple exposures, bracketed images, all shot on a tripod from a single vantage point. So for this shot I allowed myself to use a single frame!!! yes that’s right! Luke Zeme used a single frame to edit a photo haha.

I used the light in the sunset background to create shape and line, a process known as silhouette. Even though creating a silhouette is a common photographic and artistic technique the concepts of a silhouette are quite fascinating to me and many other artists. I remember one of the very first lessons in the photographic dark room for us in art school were to hold objects in front of the enlarger whilst we exposed photographic paper. So whatever we placed in front of the beam, like a flower would stay black whilst the exposed areas of the paper would go white… this is essentially the concept of a silhouette. Light being blocked and light passing through to the eye. In this giant case, the buildings are the flower blocking the light ;-).

We are so used to our eyes seeing objects and interpreting what they are… so the idea of us using negative space to create shapes is a little foreign to the brain. Photography is able to bridge the gap between this real life scenario and an idea/concept because of 2 things; firstly the limitations of a cameras dynamic range in one photograph and secondly the beautiful world of post processing! So in a way this “photo” isn’t totally honest about the scene, because if you were standing next to me whilst I/we took photographs of this amazing sunset our eyes would be able to take in the light of the entire scene without adjusting apertures, shutter speeds and ISO’s and so on… We would see all the details in the park in front of us, we would see the buildings and their structure. But the camera can’t! It can expose for either the bright sky or the dark foreground.

Since by nature we are visual creatures when it comes to art, I have supplied my images from lightroom. You can see my process out in the field involves using my camera on a tripod and expose for various areas of the scene by under and overexposing the photograph. You can use photographs to tell stories in so many different ways and a silhouette nearly always involves a single shot.


I could use a fancy HDR program like Aurora HDR 2019 to get all the juicy light and details in all of the black areas of this photo… and it would do a phenomenal job! BTW Aurora HDR 2019 is the best HDR app on the market in case you don’t know check it out 😉 but back to my point… I don’t want the viewer to get distracted by all the forms in the foreground. I don’t want their eye’s wandering all over the image looking at the park, looking at the trees, looking at the various skyscrapers. I want them to experience the sunset! I want them to see the shapes of the Sydney horizon and run their eyes up and down the lines of these buildings. So, to do this I leave out all of that extraneous information and let the viewer experience and feel the sunset the way I did… through colour and shape… well at least that’s what I hope happens 🙂

Each photograph needs to tell a story and the story is what you need to think about when you sit down and begin to do your own post processing.

Hope this post was thought-provoking!


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