Squirrel Silhouette

Squirrel Silhouette

The word silhouette is derived from the name of the 18th Century French finance minister, Etienne de Silhouette. During the Seven Years' War against Britain (1754-1763), Silhouette imposed severe economic policies on the French, and particularly on the wealthy. He taxed the rich on external signs of wealth (doors and windows, farms, luxury goods, servants, profits). His penny-pinching was ridiculed and his name became synonymous with anything perceived to be cheap. During this period, when shadow profiles cut from black paper became an inexpensive alternative for those who could not afford more expensive forms of portraiture, such as painting or sculpture, his name, silhouette, became synonymous with shadow profiles.

In photography and cinematography, silhouettes are commonly utilized as an artistic technique. When the dynamic range of the photographic medium is exceeded while shooting into strong light, photographers often expose for the background light, leaving the subject in a silhouette.

Even a very simple silhouette is perceived with great detail in the human mind. The mind fills in the blanks. The mind instantly guesses that the creature in the photograph is a squirrel. In fact, some photographers regularly squint before composing an image to identifying color and light contrasts. When the silhouettes are properly arranged in the frame, photos tend to be better.
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