Where does the word come from?

From the name of Monsieur Étienne de Silhouette, a French finance minister who in the 1700’s imposed high taxes and austerity on his nation. Because of de Silhouette’s severe taxation, people had little free money to spend elsewhere, and had to make do and substitute low-cost alternatives.  His name became synonymous with anything done or made cheaply.

Profiles cut from stiff black paper were an inexpensive way of recording a person’s appearance, and the Silhouette name has been glued to this system of portraiture.

Reflecting on the images I’ve made in the last few months, I’ve noticed silhouettes.


Fallen oak branch, Oyster Pond, Falmouth, MA.

Here is a picture of the dunes at Black Point, where the path cuts through the dunes.


Path through the dune crest, Black Point.

There were two other images from that trip.

Another of the dune silhouette. 


Dune grass at sunset, Black Point.

And a “staged” photo I made, of sun and shell.


Moon snail silhouette, Black Point sunset.

 Sunset and sunrise are times when you can particularly notice contrast.


Vineyard Sound and wheelhouse of ferry “Island Home”.

The “industrial” can create strong images.


Ventilator, infrastructure, and backlit jet contrail, Tisbury Park’n’Ride, MA.

Frayed cable creates an anthropomorphic tableau.


Wire and clamp, Woods Hole, MA ferry dock.

On the ferry, after setting sail, a lighthouse may be seen in silhouette.


Nobska light.

Birds soar aloft.


And a crow contemplates a crab.


On the edge of Vineyard Haven Harbor, Tisbury, MA.

One response to “Silhouettes

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