SILHOUETTE PHOTOGRAPHY: CAPTURING EMOTIONS THROUGH LENS

 
“Featured Image”-Image courtesy-  The Digital Photography School

Silhouette photography” is a wonderful genre of photography that conveys drama, mystery, mood, and emotion to the viewers. It often stand out amongst other photography techniques owing to their simplicity. In the Language of Photography, a Silhouette is defined as an outlined region that appears dark (not necessarily pitch dark) with a featureless interior against a light background.   

Pictures like Silhouette photography often don’t convey a direct story but leave the image up to the imagination of the viewer. Mastering silhouette photography is an excellent way to make your online portfolio that will help you stand out from the crowd. Many photographers find it very artistic to capture silhouettes. It’s because once they understand the basic technique for creating silhouette photography, challenging lighting conditions become great photographic opportunities.

“A spectacular well-edited silhouette photograph depicting mystery, drama, and emotions.”
Picture Courtesy- iPhone Photography School

TYPES OF SILHOUETTES

SUNSET SILHOUETTE

A sunset silhouette is among the most popular themes for capturing silhouette photographs. The key advantage of sunset is that the sky is brighter than any subject within the foreground. Moreover, a sunset silhouette may be a nice plot by itself.

To get the best results, try shooting the sun as low as possible, i.e when it is about to set or get close to the horizon. This further enhances the brightness, depth, and intensity. So many photographers refer to this time as the “Golden Time” to click Sun Silhouettes.

“Sunset Photography”- Image credits- Photography Course

“Blazing Hot summer day’s Sun touching the horizon”- Image courtesy- Photographs+ Blogs

BLACK SILHOUETTE

Black itself is a colour loved by many and thus, Black Silhouette creates a tempting effect with a complete pitch-dark subject against a light background. To ensure the sharpness of the smooth black hue, remember to increase the contrast of the picture during the editing process. This will prevent the picture from being faded or husky.

“A tempting, magical Black Silhouette photo”- Image courtesy- Clipart.Email

SILHOUETTE OF PEOPLE

The silhouette of individuals can be referred to as “Classic Silhouette”. 

PRO TIP– Always try to capture natural actions like dancing, jumping, swinging around. They make the silhouettes look more classic and dynamic. Ensure showing people’s full profile with reasonable space between their arms and legs. The slightest details will make the silhouettes look more recognizable. 

“A full profile silhouette of an individual”- Image credits- Digital Image Secrets

“Silhouette photo of a group of Kids swinging around.”

 Note the separation between their legs and arms, giving a sharp look- Image courtesy- Lynda

LOVE SILHOUETTE

Love silhouettes are all about poses, gestures, and vibes! Though their faces might not be visible, the viewers can feel the romantic vibe in the air. But first of all, you need a couple and an open area with no general public. Guide them to move toward one another, hold hands, slow dance, make celebratory gestures, come closer, or kiss. 

“A happy love silhouette”- Image credits- Light Presets

BEACH SILHOUETTE

For those living on the brink of the ocean, try a beach silhouette. Whenever you find the beach empty, that too in daylight, run! towards the shore to feel the vibe of an empty beach and practice some awesome photography! The water and sky provide a minimal history. Wait until the Sun is low within the sky. Then place the people you’re photographing between you and the Sun.

“Beach Photography”- Image courtesy- Pexels

Be creative while implementing silhouettes on a beach. Some ideas for Beach photography include a child jumping within the sand as the sea waves touch the shores or a group of individuals playing volleyball.

“Beach Photography”-Note the amazing background- 
Image courtesy- Digital Photography mentor

LANDSCAPE SILHOUETTE

Landscape silhouette, though not popular like other forms of silhouette photography, but is perhaps the most sophisticated one among silhouette photography owing to its technique to capture the subject in an open area. This enhances the complexity, thus making it challenging.

“Breathtaking landscape silhouette”- Image courtesy- Clipart.Email

TIPS TO CAPTURE BREATHTAKING SILHOUETTES

We often focus on balancing the exposure to make both the background and the subject visible. But in silhouette photography, we ought to keep the exposures unbalanced. The bright background needs to be properly exposed, while the subject becomes dark. Also, in silhouette photography, the pose and the angle have a greater impact on your photo rather than expression, tone, texture, and colour.

To proceed with silhouettes, you’ll need:

  • A subject with a strong and identifiable shape.
  • A strong light source. 
  • A position that is in the same straight line with the subject and the light source.
  • A light background
  • A digital camera with a small aperture and Spot metering mode.
  • Photo editing tools

“A silhouette Photo”- Image courtesy- Lightroom Presets

HOW WOULD YOU CHOOSE YOUR SUBJECT

Taking a good silhouette image requires a few technical kinds of stuff and an understanding of light. However, the results are really worth the effort. 

To create a silhouette, select a topic with a strong and distinctive shape or form. Silhouette photos of people are particular favourites. The human shape is easily recognizable too! There are a few things to reflect on consideration when creating silhouette shapes. 

“The people here are the subject” Note that the separation makes the photo sharp-
Image courtesy- Pinterest

For example, a person humped over and shot head-on won’t look very interesting in a silhouette image. That same character upright and in profile, with their limbs extended, will create a gorgeous, dynamic silhouette portrait due to the fact their shape could be superfluous, distinct and properly defined. 

Also to maintain that, look for separation. The space around the subject defines it. Without separation among the subject and different elements inside the image, the silhouette loses its recognizable shape and becomes clumsy.

“Capturing in profile mode adds greater element”-Image courtesy- Pinterest

TIPS:

When photographing silhouettes of people, attempt to shoot in a profile mode. Profiles add a greater element. Look for the little area among legs and arms. For more than one man or woman or a group, look for separation between them.

Also, Holding hands will create a higher silhouette than if they had been all collectively in an embrace. If you’re now not careful enough, the silhouettes will begin to merge that seem like one individual with an additional frame part. If your subject is totally backlit, with the right digital camera settings, you’ll be capable of capturing a gorgeous, crisp silhouette shot.

HOW TO GET THE PERFECT LIGHTING

One can use any strong source of light to create silhouette photography. But the most effective condition is that it needs to be behind the subject. This makes sunset and sunrise the best source for silhouette photography. 

The great time of day for silhouette capturing is both early in the morning or late within the day, whilst the sun is at the horizon. That way, you’re more likely to capture a warm-coloured sky, and there won’t be too much mild brightening up your challenge.

“The Sun works as a perfect light for Silhouette Photography”-
Image courtesy PictureCorrect

A streetlight works or you can use even your own light. Since the light is at the back of the subject, this is often referred to as “backlighting.” You can hear this term often when you visit studios.

Ensure to turn off any strobes or flashes in your camera, and, ideally, break out from any other light source that might interfere in your silhouette shot. This is an authentic tip whether or not you’re in the studio or shooting outdoors.

PRO TIP– For capturing exceptional silhouette images, don’t direct your lens right at the solar. If you do, the light can fall on the subject and break the complete shot. However, lack of light is likewise trouble for silhouette photography. In this case, the subject turns definitely grey.

“Perfect Lighting in this silhouette Photograph”- Image courtesy- PetaPixel

 DON’T NEGLECT THE BACKGROUND

While choosing your background, ensure that the background is plain but bright to sharpen the silhouette as much as possible. Don’t choose backgrounds with details crammed up. It will make the photo clumsy. Try to find a location without too much Stuffings obstructing the background.

“A plain, light background for silhouette photography”
Image courtesy- Pinterest

YOUR POSITION MATTERS!

Silhouette lies in a relationship and spacing between elements. After having a distinct subject and a strong light source, even if you’re unable to get a silhouette, change your position. Place the subject directly between you and the light source. You may include the light source in your image or block it completely with your subject.

“The Silhouette Positioning Relationship between the lens, subject and light source”-
 Image courtesy- ExpertPhotography

PRO TIP– You can create sunbursts by choosing a small aperture like f22. It’s all about the angle. 

You can include a bit of rim light in your silhouette photography. Rim light focuses on at least one edge of the subject. The strong backlight covers the entire outline of the subject like a wrap and allows exhibiting detail.

“Sunburst in Silhouette photo”- Note the strong background-
Image courtesy- Lightroom Presets

 CAMERA SETTINGS FOR YOUR SILHOUETTE 

If you can deal with camera settings perfectly, cheers! You are on your way to becoming a talented photographer since silhouette photography is pretty different from any other kind of photography. You might be used to the technique where exposing (the background) is different from the part of the image you are focusing on (the silhouetted subject). But there are ways to make things work in both auto and manual modes!

AUTO MODE

While shooting silhouette photos in auto mode, direct your camera upwards towards the sky and push the trigger down only halfway. 

ALERT- Do not point it directly at the sun, as this will potentially damage your camera. Then, direct your camera towards your subject and shoot. Most cameras will determine what exposure levels should be used when the trigger is half down in auto mode, therefore the result should be a pleasant silhouette shot.

“Silhouette Photo, taken in Auto Mode”- 
Image courtesy-Digital Photography School

MANUAL MODE

Manual Mode is so far one of the best modes of capturing great silhouettes. If you’re shooting silhouette pictures in manual mode, manually expose the background light properly, leaving your subject very underexposed or dark. Even then if your subject isn’t dark enough, adjust your exposure compensation dial to -0.3 or -0.7 to further darken the entire image.

“Manual Mode”- Image courtesy- Wikimedia Commons

DEPTH OF FIELD

Maximize your depth of field (don’t go below f/8) by starting off with a small aperture (i.e. an outsized F-stop number such as f/16) to get the crisp, pointy subject along with a perfectly sharp background. At f/16, the entire scene will be in cognizance. 

“A silhouette photo with great depth of field’- Image credits- Pinterest

EXPOSURE BRACKETING

Exposure bracketing is often another effective measure to confirm the right exposure in your silhouettes. Some cameras will have an automatic exposure bracketing (AEB) feature that permits you to require a burst of three photos, at three slightly different exposures, to form sure that you simply have options if your settings weren’t perfect the primary time around. 

“Automatic Exposure Bracketing”- Image courtesy- Bully Eyes

UNDERSTANDING METERING MODES ON CAMERA

Digital cameras can read and balance light within the scene to be captured and try to determine the best-balanced exposure. These are called “metering modes”. Different digital camera models sometimes use extraordinary technology, however, there are 3 main choices:

  •  Whole Scene (referred to as Multi in Sony, Evaluative in Canon, or Matrix in Nikon)- Here the light spreads across the entire scenario.
  •  Center (referred to as Center in Sony, Center-Weighted in Canon, and Nikon)- Speeds light across the whole scene yet pays much focus on the central portion.
  •  Spot (Called Spot in Sony, Canon, and Nikon)- Exposes for a particular region or spot which you select.

Spot metering is the best suitable for creating awesome silhouettes.

  DON’T USE FLASH

Never use flash when creating silhouettes. Flash is used when you have to portray the slightest details within the interior of your subject’s outline. For a silhouette, the subject to be under-exposed or dark. So details inside the subject don’t matter.

“Don’t ever use flash in your Silhouette photographs”-
Image courtesy- Photographs

GIVING THE FINAL TOUCH WITH EDITING

After you are done with all the technicalities, you might still not be satisfied with some articulations. You might want to add a touch of vibrant and gorgeous hues to the background, making it colourful or even increase the contrast of your silhouette image to get that crisp! Or would like to get that tempting pitch dark silhouette, adjusting the shadows, highlights, Worry not! Using Photoshop,  you can achieve the dramatic effects that even you yourself wouldn’t have imagined. You can have a look at our blog on Adobe Photoshop Tips & Tricks, it might help you.

“Photoshops change the entire mood of the photo”
Image credits- SLR Lounge

However, there isn’t an exact science or an absolutely perfect way of clicking a great silhouette. Each time, a silhouette enters your gallery, undoubtedly your camera settings will vary depending on the subject, lighting conditions, background, and position.

Sometimes, out of nowhere, you might capture a spectacular, mind-boggling silhouette within even such technicalities. Remember that it takes practice, experimentation, and maybe even a little luck to capture a truly spectacular silhouette photo. Scroll down to treat your eyes with some drama, emotions, and mystery!

“Art Museum Silhouette Photography”- Image Courtesy- Pinterest

“Creative Silhouette Photo”- Image courtesy-The Photo Argus

“Mysterious Silhouette Photograph”- Image courtesy- Pixabay

“Creative Silhouette Photo”- Image courtesy- Amateur photography

“Silhouette in Beach” – Image courtesy- Pinterest

“Aesthetic Silhouette Photo- Romance is in the Air”- Image courtesy- Click magazine

“50 shades of the sky”- Image courtesy- Pxfuel

“The sky blushed with the purple hue!”- Image courtesy- Pixabay

FINAL NOTE

Well. I hope by the time you have reached this point of this blog, your desires must have fuelled up to grab your camera, insert the lenses, and hunt for capturing such appealing silhouette shots. But wait a minute! If you want to broaden your vision more about Photography, lenses, poses, themes, tips, and tricks, visit chiiz.com.

Do share this blog among your Photographer friends, Social media sites, groups, and acquaintances. Comment down to read your favorite photography-related topics at Chiiz. And Yes! Don’t forget to give the most important thing on which an artist proceeds- Your Valuable Feedback.

About the Author

Sudeshna Dutta is currently pursuing her B.Tech in Electronics from KIIT University. She believes that “A calm and composed mind brings more happiness than the pursuit of success coupled with constant restlessness.” Apart from dealing with circuits, diodes, and chips, she is passionate about playing keyboard and piano and wants to attain professionalism in it with her talent coupled with hard work. She prefers the music of all tastes and genres with the belief that “every piece of music has emanated from God.” 
Instagram Handle- Sudeshna Dutta 

Comment

  • Beautiful piece of work from a beautiful person.

    Omprakash Chandra
    Reply

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