The first thing you need to to look for when shooting silhouettes – dark subjects, often in profile with no detail – is a scene in which the background is much brighter than the main subject. Then, of course you will need to find your subject.
Silhouettes of Palm Trees – Canon EOS 5D @ 1/8 sec, f/16
What’s essential is to choose the right subject. The more interesting shape your subject has, the more interesting your photo will be. Don’t wait until there’s a vivid sunset/sunrise before looking round for something to use as a silhouette. However, as you travel around, keep your eyes peeled for suitable subjects. With a little imagination you can also create your own silhouettes by placing something suitable in front of the scene.
If you have a consumer DSLR camera, generally you just need to make sure that the light-meter is set on multi pattern, which reads and evaluates all areas of the frame. You don’t have to adjust exposure evaluations, the camera then will expose for the backgorund, and your subject be recorded without detail. In addition, the sunrise or sunset colors will be rich and vivid.
Shooting the Sun
The sun, source of all nature light can make a stunning subject in its own right., and enhance an image through its inclusion within the frame. Composing your photograph this can can create a dramatic effect, especially at sunrise/sunset.
Many new photographers are unsure about how to make an exposure reading when the sun is included in the picture. If you have a spot metering on your camera, you can use it to meter the sky expsoure away from the sun’s intense bright centre, you will find that your picture will be correctly exposed. If you meter directly into the sun, your camera will compensate by dramatically under-exposing: the iris will close to compensate for the bright light.
Lonely Tree – Victoria, Australia – Canon EOS 300D @ f/22, 1/1000
Another thing that you need to pay attention of when shooting silhouettes is to avoid flare. Because the light is pointing directly at the camera, it can bounce around inside the lens and reduce contrast. To minimize the risk of this, all you need to do is to fit a good lens hood.
While you don’t actually want flare, because it’s difficult to control, the effect can be appealing. Some software programs such as photoshop have a ‘flare’ filter, which lets you produce the effect in a controlled way.
Written by Emma S. (Written on Nov 13, 2007)