Dawn in St. Petersburg Harbor
Dawn in St. Petersburg Harbor
Landscape photographers tend to be a sad lot.  They are in bed once there is no longer any usable light so they can be up prowling around before dawn to catch the first light of day. One of the things I love about cruise ships is they often arrive in port early in the morning and, given the height of the decks, the ship makes an excellent shooting platform providing a perspective that is often not possible to catch from ground level.  I love how silently such a large vessel glides slowly into port as if it was floating on air rather than plying its way through water.  Every chance we get we are out on deck or our balcony to be part of the majestic arrival of our ship.  There is no other means of transportation that is as slow and silent as the arrival of a ship in port and this is one of the reasons we love the experience so much - there is a slow motion dignity to this means of transport that is missing in our usual frenetic transit from place to place.

Landscape photographers work hard to avoid shooting into the sun on a regular basis as it can, without filters and careful consideration, wash out colors and make the correct capture of highlights and shadows almost impossible.  If you are willing to shoot at dawn or dusk when the sky is often saturated with color, shooting into the sun can create dramatic images. 

The silhouetted industrial cranes to the left were shot about 5:30am as we arrived in the harbor at St. Petersburg, Russia.  The shot was directly into the sun and I knew that by exposing for the sky I would get the orange light of  morning and the shadows would block up giving only the outlines of the cranes.  This also served to hide most of the industrial detritus scattered around this working port. 

Silhouettes work for the same reason that black and white images do - they strip away most of the color and let the viewer focus on the shapes and forms in the image.  The cranes stand out against the orange sky as there is very little additional detail in the image.  If this had been shot in the cold light of day, the cranes would just be part of the industrial machinery on display in port.

Kids at the Aquarium
Kids at the Aquarium
While you can't see the sun directly in this image, the light blue behind the aquarium glass is the result of sunlight on the water's surface.  Once again, by exposing for the lightest part of the image, the darker parts become silhouetted and there is a distinct loss of details in the children.  This draws the viewer's attention to the Beluga Whale in the background and the children's arms pointed towards the whale.

This silhouette technique is relatively easy to achieve with most cameras as you simply let the camera go about its usual work when you point it at something bright - it will properly expose the brightest part of the image and throw the rest into shadow.  Sometimes you may have to brace you camera against something solid because the light, even in the brightest part of the image, can be quite dim.  Avoid the "shakes" by bumping up your ISO or finding something solid to steady the camera on.

 


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