This week we will show you how to shoot silhouettes in our 52 week Photography Challenge.
The rules are simple: Interpret the theme using digital photography on any device. Only minimal editing allowed.
Make a statement with a silhouette.
A wonderful technique to capture your audience's attention, silhouettes are a great way to add drama and a sense of mystery to your images.
A silhouette is basically a tonal drop out, which means that the image is reduced to high contrast tones. We see the subject reduced to simplified dark shapes when the medium - light tones and colours are not featured in the photo.
How do you shoot silhouettes?
Essentially, you have to have the light source behind the subject so that the light is not highlighting details on the plane facing the camera. It is the opposite of usual photography where you use the light on the subject.
When your light source is sorted, you need to work out the correct exposure for the shot. If you're in auto mode you are going to need to override the camera's default settings. This is because cameras are built to expose well lit images.
All you need to do is to focus ( hold shutter release button half way down) on the light part of the shot, move the camera to the darker area of the image and release the shutter. The camera is taking dark exposure readings to compensate for too much brightness in the light area. When you move the viewfinder to a dark part of the image, those settings are used for the entire image- creating a high contrast silhouette.
Since silhouettes are dark tones, images tend to feature highly contrasting shapes and colours. The reduced light tends to eliminate texture details. With these dark shapes comes a sense of mystery and drama.
Ensuring your silhouettes are clear shapes is very important. Be careful not to blend the shape of your subject with something in the background. This will confuse your audience and detract from the overall impact of your image.
Since you are pointing your camera directly at the light source, when shooting in manual mode in bright light, you should use a fast shutter speed with an aperture setting at the higher end. (Higher f/stop number = smaller aperture). This way you should get enough light for the background but not too much to reflect on your subject too much.
However, if you are shooting is soft lighting conditions like the 'golden' and 'blue' hours when the sun is not visible, you will need to adjust settings to accomodate less light. A longer exposure can useful but remember to use a tripod.
Some people consider silhouettes to be typically black, flat shapes. However, I enjoy mixing it up a bit by sometimes showing detail in the foreground. For me it's not about flattening the image, but rather reducing tonal differences so that patterns the audience may not have noticed before become obvious. It is introducing your audience to a new way to see something.
As always, composition is very important to get right when you are shooting silhouettes. Since you are eliminating detail from your subject it is even more important to thoughtfully arrange the elements within your frame. Let's face it, there is no saving a badly composed image!
Silhouettes are a great way to create a sense of drama and mystery, while showing your audience a different way of seeing something.
To help your audience get the most out of your images,
- Light source needs to be behind the subject.
- Shapes are defined so that they are easily recognisable.
- Override auto settings by 'tricking the camera to expose the shot 'incorrectly'
- Manual settings- adjust accordingly to bright or soft lighting conditions.
- Compose your image well so that the subject is interesting.
How will you silhouette your next subject?
- June 2018
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- May 21, 2018 Organic Shapes: Week 20 of 52 Photo Challenge. May 21, 2018
- May 15, 2018 Movement: Week 19 of 52 Photo Challenge. May 15, 2018
- May 7, 2018 Frames: Week 18 of 52 Photo Challenge. May 7, 2018
- May 1, 2018 Street: Week 17 of 52 Photo Challenge. May 1, 2018
- April 2018
- March 2018
- Feb 26, 2018 Leading Lines: Week 8 of 52 Photo Challenge. Feb 26, 2018
- Feb 21, 2018 Can you learn to be Creative? Feb 21, 2018
- Feb 19, 2018 Black and White photography: Week 7 of 52 Photo Challenge Feb 19, 2018
- Feb 14, 2018 Photo Challenge Week 6 of 52 Feb 14, 2018
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- Jan 7, 2018 52 Week Photo Challenge Jan 7, 2018
- December 2017
- Nov 22, 2017 Calling all Creatives Nov 22, 2017
- September 2017
- August 2017
- May 20, 2017 Smartphonography Workshop Coming May 20, 2017
- April 2017
- Mar 29, 2017 Upcoming workshop Mar 29, 2017
- September 2016