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  • Writer's pictureBetty Girardeau


Just before putting my gear in my car and heading back home Sunday before last, I turned around and looked back toward the top of Buck Bald. I quickly grabbed the camera again because I just loved the look of these three people silhouetted against all the lovely clouds. I don't often see such opportunities and was glad that I hadn't missed this one. Silhouettes have been a part of art going back well into antiquity. But in the 18th century the art of creating silhouette profiles by cutting them out of black paper became very popular and has remained so to this day. I have silhouettes of both of my sons that were cut by an artist at a street fair when they were little. It's amazing how those facial outlines, cut with the tiniest of details, really capture their look. The word silhouette is derived from the name of Étienne de Silhouette, a French finance minister who, in 1759, was forced by France's credit crisis during the Seven Years' War to impose severe economic demands upon the French people, particularly the wealthy. Because of de Silhouette's austere economies, his name became synonymous with anything done or made cheaply. Prior to the 18th and 19th centuries the art of creating this sort of portrait was called "profiles" or "shades." Whatever the name, there is a definite appeal to these contrasted images. In photography silhouettes are a wonderful way to convey drama, mystery, or mood in an image. There is often no clear story, so part of the image is left up to the imagination of the viewer. I don't see this image as moody or mysterious, not that there is much left up to the imagination of the viewer, but I like it and wanted to share it with you.

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