Tips for photographing a great silhouette

What does silhouette mean?

Silhouette means a shape or subject that is dark or black without detail against a brighter background.

The technique used to photograph a silhouette:

The basic technique for photographing a silhouette is to place your subject in front of a light source and force your camera to set its exposure based on the brightest part of your picture, (the background) and not the subject of your image. In doing this, your subject will be underexposed which will produce the desired result.
There is another way to make your photos underexposed. You can use Aperture priority to maximize your depth of field (the amount of your image that is in focus). Set a small aperture (a larger number) to increase the depth of field, this means you will have a sharper foreground and background in your shots and also a dark foreground.

Some tips to consider when photographing a silhouette:

1- Make your camera think that it’s the lighter areas of the picture (the background) you are most interested in.

2- It’s best to leave the sun (or other light source) completely behind the subject. This way excessive brightness and lens flares can be avoided.

3- Turn off your flash because you don’t want any more light on the front of your subject.

4- Choose a good subject with a recognizable shape to be a silhouette; some subjects don’t work as a silhouette

5- Try to shoot in manual mode because in automatic mode your camera will probably want to use its flash, most cameras are programmed to use flash when light levels are low to light up your subject instead of underexposing it to get a silhouette . Use the manual exposure settings on your camera to avoid this. Set the exposure for the brightest part of the background, and then shoot the framed image.

6- In my opinion the most wonderful silhouette photos which are taken in front of the sun in the sunset have the sunset light source behind the subject leaving a charming background which will reflect on the subject you want to photograph in a magical way .

7- Make sure you never point the lens directly at the sun. If there is too much light, the light will fall on your object; if there is not enough light, your background will become gray.  The key to silhouette lighting is having your background lighter than your object.

8-Try to shoot only one object in the frame and if there are more than one object in the frame, try to keep them separated. For example, if you are silhouetting some people sitting next to each other, they will looks joined in the silhouette so try to separate them.

9- Shoot your subject making sure to keep the strongest source of light, like the sun, moon or other light source, behind the subject. With this in mind you can shoot from different angles, higher, lower or side angles to get more creative with the silhouette.

Amazing silhouette photos to inspire you

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