Daniel Bretl - Portfolio for Graduate School Application

Living Image

Setting colors free in the name of evolution

100 Word Story

Collaborative spontaneous story writing


Taking a few megapixel-sized steps backwards


Using color to discover patterns of word usage

Long Exposure

Exploring the display of change over time


Living a life in images

Travel Blog

Visually exploring the world at large

This Pen...

Finding my true paper self


Turning everyday life into art

Place in Silhouette

Capturing the essence of a place in its shapes

The idea of Place in Silhouette is to create a landscape of a place by photographically capturing its relevant, recurring, or just plain interesting shapes, making silhouettes of those shapes, and then compositing those shapes together to create a landscape that is abstract but hopefully still captures some essence of the original place. This project began at Sarah Lawrence College and has continued through the years, especially when I live abroad. It has become my way of taking in a place and creating a body of memory.

I make the silhouettes in a very "low-tech" manner. I start with a regular photograph of mine and use Photoshop, but I never touch bezier curves or the pen tool or anything like that. I actually mainly just use the "Legacy" Brightness & Contrast tool along with the wand selector and a black paint bucket fill. It is a time intensive process, but I have created silhouettes from so many hundreds of photographs by now that I can do it fairly quickly. I am adamant about avoiding pen-type tools or any sort of manual drawing, because it is important to me to retain the precise original shape and also "edge texture" of the subject.

  • See the first and second composites from Sarah Lawrence College.
  • See the composite from Hobart, Tasmania.
  • The composite image for my recent time in France is still in progress, but you can get a feel for the French shapes with this slideshow featuring 164 of the total 214 individual general French silhouettes that I captured and created: