Silhouettes can be a striking way of capturing a scene and create a calm, serene yet dramatic image. Here we offer some tips and advice on capturing effective silhouettes.
o Subjects with strong, recognisable outlines and shapes work best – e.g. trees, church towers, statues, etc.
o It is essential that the subject has strong backlighting.
o Shooting at sunrise and sunset can give good results
o Any camera can capture a silhouette, although you need to have some control over exposure. A DSLR will give best results.
o A tripod is often – but not always – necessary.
o Turn off flash
o Position yourself so that the subject is strongly backlit
o Try a shot in auto mode (aperture priority) and check the result – if the subject is not a solid black, dial in some negative exposure compensation.
o Or shoot in manual exposure mode – select your aperture, point the camera at the bright background and adjust the shutter speed to give a balanced exposure. Then recompose with your subject in the frame.
o Frame carefully, considering the usual aspects of composition.
o Simple, uncluttered scenes often work best.
o For people, aim for profiles rather than straight on.
o Focus on the subject so that it is crisp in the image. Camera autofocus systems may struggle with backlit subjects, so be prepared to switch to manual focus, if necessary.
o A small aperture (f/11 or narrower) will cover slight focus errors.
o If your shots out of the camera are not quite full silhouettes, adjust blacks in processing software like Lightroom or Photoshop. Shooting in RAW gives greater scope for such adjustment.