This page was started to put some of the “artsy” silhouettes I have prepared from images taken over the years. But silhouettes can be used for many educational purposes. Removing color and detail from images tends to emphasize the shape and outlines of subjects. Many of the subjects below can be identified by their shapes. No color is needed.

Silhouettes are valuable because often a subject is seen backlit – and appears mostly as a silhouette. This is common in birding, where one is often looking up towards a bird in the canopy against a bright sky. But can also be true for mammals or trees in the distance. For plants, the silhouette emphasizes the growth form (habit) of the plant – this can be an important characteristic for identification.

The silhouettes shown here are made by converting the original color images to grayscale, and then manipulating the histograms to increase the contrast. Some images are not strictly silhouettes – they are grayscale images with high contrast. Many different image manipulation applications (here Aperture or Graphic Converter have been used) can be used produce similar results. Of course, some subjects lend themselves better to silhouettes – birds flying against a bright sky or trees with the sun behind them.

More silhouettes are below.