Thursday, June 16, 2011

Great Silhouette Photography Tips For Beginners

Silhouette Photography Tips for Beginners

Silhouette photography tips can transform a plain image into something extraordinary. Silhouettes are an appealing way to create drama in an image. They say so much more than the average photo, and are brimming with emotion, imagination and meaning.

Classically defined a silhouette is nothing more than a dark image set in contrast against a light background – but the opportunities for capturing something incredible are heightened because of the simplicity involved.

Silhouettes Properly Defined For Photographers

Silhouette photography includes all bold subject matter that would make a thought-provoking composition in any given image. That means people, buildings, animals and objects are all available for you - to try your hand at these excellent silhouette photography tips. But first, you need to understand what it’s all about, so that you can start seeing opportunities for great silhouettes yourself.


Warm light surrounding a sharp silhouette by photographer Stu-pot78

The most important part of silhouette photography is – lighting. The dark subject can be broody and interesting, but it must be enhanced with a natural light source behind it. Photographers have found fascinating ways to boost the emotion of their silhouette images by contrasting them with varied light, imaginative settings and strong symbolic resonances.

It’s your goal as a silhouette photographer to find these same features for some groundbreaking photos of your own. Silhouette photography tips can really improve your composition and exposure. Here are some brilliant features to notice when creating your first set of silhouette photos.

Your Background – The background of your image might not be the focal point, but it needs to be interesting in order to enhance your subject. Strong light, shapes and patterns are a few things you need to look out for to create a memorable silhouette.

Your Subject – The 2D subject of your image can be completely black, or partially black depending on the statement you’re trying to make with your image. It should block the resonant light source, and draw attention to the drama of your photo.

Camera Settings For Silhouette Photography

These silhouette photography tips will help you set up your camera, to properly capture a dark subject and a light background. Begin by turning off your flash so that your subject doesn’t receive any light at all.


A great example of exquisite framing by photographer Nathan Hunter

Exposure – Use the light metering on your camera to focus in on the light in your background. You can also use the auto-focus function – first focus it on the light part of your image, then reframe with your silhouette. More advanced photographers can tweak the manual settings by making the exposure of light the focus, on your photo.

Framing – The most important silhouette photography tips are about framing. If you don’t frame your image right, you could lose the mood or capture an angle that doesn’t set off the tone of the image. Try a few shots with direct sunlight in the background – at sunset – and centre your subject in the middle of your frame.

Aperture – You’ll want to capture a large portion of the background, so a narrow aperture will work best. Once you learn more about the manual aperture settings, you can play around with them to get the most out of your scene.

The Finer Points of Silhouette Photography

When searching for silhouette photography tips, you’ll often find advice on the larger features of an image, but never the finer points that make one extra-special. To make your human subject more interesting for example, capture their profile – or even better, set up for a shoot when it is windy.

You want to immortalize their sharp dark lines, their activity, to make the shot truly magnificent. Actively look for opportunities to capture lively silhouette photos. Something as simple as walking on the beach at sunset can render incredible images.

While a posed or still silhouette can be very stirring, you’ll often find that capturing a silhouette in motion can give your photo an authenticity that these still images lack. Trial and error is the basis of good silhouette photography, so don’t be afraid to try different settings, challenging subjects or tweak your own personal process.

The Essence of Silhouette Photography

These silhouette photography tips should help you create some excellent images, full of emotion and pensive simplicity. Remember that your images shouldn’t contain any shadows, your subject needs to be completely 2D to work – with depth and light flooding in from the background.

A decent silhouette is so easy to capture that you can do it with a point and shoot camera. The difficult part comes in when you choose your subject, position your camera and frame your shot! These skills you’ll have to build up over time. Some of the best silhouette photographers still get it wrong, but the trick is to take your time – find that drama and keep shooting until you hit that one photo that trumps the rest.

Build up a portfolio of your best shots, and take notes when you discover personal silhouette photography tips in the field. Get close to your subject and try distance photos using these settings and tips. You’ll soon find out what you enjoy most, and will be able to knit together your own style when shooting silhouettes.

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