A Perfect Silhouette shot – Photography Tips

Silhouette Photography Tips


It’s starting to get a lot warmer these days and I find myself going outside to play more and more often. A recent warm weekend took my family and I to the Dumont Sandunes where we played on the sand and ate around a campfire. As the sun was setting I realized how beautiful the sky was and I needed to capture it! As there were little girls playing on top of a sandune hill I realized this was the perfect moment to take a silhouette shot that I would never have been able to take back in Las Vegas because the mountains always block a good horizon. I took the shot and I love it! Want to do the same next time you see a beautiful sky? Let me teach you how! It’s so fun to take creative shots like this.

First off, What is a silhouette?

sil⋅hou⋅ette [sil-oo-et] –noun,
1. a two-dimensional representation of the outline of an object, as a cutout or configurational drawing, uniformly filled in with black, esp. a black-paper, miniature cutout of the outlines of a famous person’s face.
2. a dark image outlined against a lighter background.

Now here are my top photography tips for a silhouette!

1. Your subject has to be recognizable.

My subject was a group of girls but you can choose anything that has a clearly defined shape even when it’s all black.

2. Shoot at The Golden Hour – sunrise or sunset

The golden hour is the hour when the sun first starts to rise and the hour before the sun is completely gone. This is when you see the most wonderful color in the sky

3. No flash!

If you use a flash, it will illuminate your subject and we don’t want that!

4.The background needs to be brighter than your subject.

Not outside? The background could be a window! The window light will be brighter than anything in front of it so you can use this as well.

5. Your subject(s) should have space between them

See how I shot a group of subjects? If they were all huddled together you might not be able to tell how many girls were there. You need to have space between your subjects so the light outlines them

6. Shoot down low and look up!

For this shot I was at the bottom of a hill shooting up. You want as much as your subject to be against the bright background. You have to angle yourself to not let the horizon block the sky

7. Meter off the sky

With a DSLR, you want to expose for the sky. With a camera phone like the iPhone, tap your finger on the brightest part of the picture, the sky! This will make your subject darker and your sky the brightest part of the picture.

8. Have fun with editing.

Add more contrast to see that deep black, add saturation to deepen the sky colors, have fun!

THOSE WITH A DSLR or the ability to choose these settings:

9.. Fast shutter speed

It’s going to be dark and the sun will almost be gone but you don’t want blurry subjects! You want a nice sharp image to clearly see what you have outlined.

10. Use a wide aperture

Not only will this increase your shutter speed but it will make the background more out of focus and help keep the attention on your subjects.

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