CanvasPop Blog - The world is your canvas

1-866-619-9574

Silhouettes and Shadows—by Blair Gable

Our friend, Ottawa photographer Blair Gable, is a member of CanvasPop’s Pro Community and shares his insights and behind-the-scenes thoughts right here on our blog. 

Everywhere I go I see silhouettes and shadows. Wherever there is light there is an absence of light somewhere nearby and that is where you can find the potential for those dramatic silhouettes and shadows.

For most of my assignments using silhouettes and shadows are not options as I am commissioned to photograph a person to go a long with a story about that person and people generally want to see what that person looks like. One of the few exceptions would be if I am to protect the identity of said person.


Whenever I see a hill with a clean sky and a tree, I think, “Wouldn’t it be nice to have a silhouette of someone doing something dramatic and interesting up there?” Yes, yes it would be nice. The same goes when I see long, dark shadows march down the street on an exceptionally sunny afternoon.

Whenever I’m in an area and there’s something graphically interesting going on above ground level I try and figure out if I can get a person in there to complete the scene. What if they stand on a bench and I lay on the ground bellow them? I can frame them in the dark leaves of a shaded tree while the sunset screams for attention all around them?

In situations where there is nice even light, but you want something more dramatic, don’t feel like you have to wait for the sun to align all of the variables for you. Stick a couple of flashes between your subjects and that bright red wall (pointed at the wall) and you can create a situation that you might spend the next hour shooting.

Sometimes no light is the best light. Sometimes.

Follow Blair on Twitter (@gablehead) and let him know what you’d like to see here next. Check out his previous posts