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Photographing Silhouettes

Updated on September 13, 2013
A sense of peace and tranquility
A sense of peace and tranquility | Source

Silhouettes can pose a challenge when photographing them. Using silhouettes in photography is not that hard if you plan ahead.

You have to pay close attention to the available light or make your own. The studio is great for silhouette photography since you control all the aspects especially the lighting.

Silhouettes need not be of people, anything can be represented as a silhouette. Plants, leaves, rocks, vases, pets, people, houses ..the list goes on, although translucent flowers or petals can be a mission.

Coordinate or arrange your subject so that the light, whether strong or weak is directly behind the subject. Pay attention and pre-focus the camera to your subject, again depending on the available light.

Next set the shutter speed for the strongest light source and your subjects' shape (silhouette), will naturally block off the light source and have a silhouette.

Because the camera's shutter speed is set for the strongest light source, your subject will be underexposed. Your f-stop (aperture) will automatically be at it's smallest opening, or you can set it manually, this combination is enough to render your subject as a shape.

Make sure that the light is strong enough to overpower your subject otherwise detail will show on your subject and the result will appear as simple case of an underexposed subject. Your aim is to purposely create a silhouette, you control the image, you are the artist.

A perfect example is a photograph of a sunset. You notice how the Sun is represented in all of it's glory, but anything in between shows up as dark forms. This is the same concept in silhouette photography.

Silhouettes can also be used to set a romantic mood, such as couples in the beach. Special effects can be achieved in the studio by using a canvas with the subject behind it and light from behind. Use of color filters on the studio light(s) can render silhouettes that are surrounded by a brilliant color, a technique often used in advertising campaigns.

Be creative, little things such as toys, animal shapes, and most still lives lend themselves for silhouette photography so long as careful attention is placed to the light position, light strength and subject/light position.

A silhouette most dramatic effect, at least from my perspective, is that it opens the mind to various interpretations and lend themselves for a little mystery. Good luck and have fun.

CC0 1.0)
CC0 1.0) | Source

© 2011 Luis E Gonzalez


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    • Anthea Carson profile image

      Anthea Carson 7 years ago from Colorado Springs

      Thank you, you've given me some great tips and ideas.

    • Denise Handlon profile image

      Denise Handlon 7 years ago from North Carolina

      Interesting. I love photography. One of my goals is to eventually take some photography classes and stop tooling around with my digital camera. Great info.

      Thanks for following me and congratulations. You are the one who put my follower number to '500' which resulted in the hubteam notifying me about this event.

      Hey, there are several of us who will be involved in doing a hubchallenge beginning April 1st--writing 30 hubs in 30 days. You're welcome to join us for that.

    • Enlydia Listener profile image

      Enlydia Listener 7 years ago from trailer in the country


    • stephhicks68 profile image

      Stephanie Hicks 7 years ago from Bend, Oregon

      Very cool photos! I am an amateur photographer too, but mostly learn as I go. You have some great tips here. Cheers, Steph

    • RTalloni profile image

      RTalloni 7 years ago from the short journey

      Helpful hub. Thanks.

    • tnderhrt23 profile image

      tnderhrt23 7 years ago

      this is a Canon PowerShot SD900...seems like a complex little critter to me...I had my own camera stolen from my luggage on a trip to Italy...someone in customs nabbed it...Christmas pictures and all! so I am not good with this camera...Thanks Luis!

    • LuisEGonzalez profile image

      Luis E Gonzalez 7 years ago from Miami, Florida

      Let me know your camera brand and model, I will try to give you some tech tips


    • tnderhrt23 profile image

      tnderhrt23 7 years ago

      I am an amateur at best but have a passion for taking pics...If I can figure out how to adjust settings on this camera of mine, which was a gift from my son, I am going to try this...will let you know how it goes! Thanks! ps, thanks for the following...i am looking forward to reading your other work here!

    • LuisEGonzalez profile image

      Luis E Gonzalez 7 years ago from Miami, Florida

      Thanks,one of the easiest projects undertaken by me was to silhouette people against sunsets.

    • No_Clue profile image

      No_Clue 7 years ago

      excellently written informative hub with stunning photography!