3 Steps to Great Silhouette Shots - AMPt Darkroom
We all love a good silhouette shot. A beautiful sunset with darkened tree in the foreground or a cityscape with the added mystery of a darkened figure. Silhouette shots are dynamic and most time beautiful to view. The darkened subjects allow the viewer to create their own story and thereby deepening the message of the photo.
In this tutorial, Anna will walk through three steps for setting up a classic silhouette shot.
STEP 1 - Find A Background That is Dynamic.
Whether it is a landscape or cityscape, both will work for this type of shot. Sky shots are a no brainer when it comes to silhouettes. Any type of background will work but it is important to pick a background that will make your silhouette stand out.
photo by Belinda Gregg @bindyboo
STEP 2 - Pick an Interesting and Recognizable Subject.
Remember that your subject will be mostly dark so most detail will be lost. Try shooting something that has interesting angles or a person in a dynamic pose. Take care if you have more than one item silhouetted when you frame your subject. Because of the nature of the darkened subjects the outlines can become muddled if they are too close together or touching. Objects that have good negative space can make great silhouettes like a park bench or the limbs of a tree.
photo by Anna Cox @annacox
STEP 3 - Position Your Subject
For this type of shot your subject will need to be lit from the back which is in reverse to how we normally shoot. Sunrise or sunset is the easiest time to take this shot, when the sun is low in the sky but any type of strong light will work. If you want a halo effect, position your subject directly in front of the light and the light will “leak” around them creating a glow. Also, don’t forget to turn your flash OFF. The flash will even out the light and you will lose the dramatic effect of backlighting.
photo by Nei Cruz @n_cruz
- If photographing a person try turning them to shoot their profile or have them pose in a wide posture.
- Find subjects that create an interesting shape once in shadow
- Use negative space to your advantage like the rungs of a fence or grass in sand dunes
- Remember to touch your screen to set the exposure you want. Experiment with the light before deciding on your final shot.