January 2013
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How to shoot great silhouettes – 5 Tips – Part 2

Read the first part of this series (Shooting Great Silhouettes – Part 1)

Tip 1051 (Look for the profile shape of a subject): The subjects you use for your photos need to have a distinctive profile or outline that would make sense in the case of a silhouette. For example, you could have an intricate design, or a very beautiful plant or something else that you want to generate a silhouette out of, but always keep in mind that while shooting a silhouette, it is necessary that you only keep in the mind the profile that will be generated when the background is brighter with the assumption that none of the other details of the object will be visible except for its profile.

Tip 1052 (Turning the flash off): In a previous tip, I had already mentioned that light should not be shining on the object. However, this one tip should be uppermost in the minds of those using point-and-shoot cameras. When you take your camera and use the default setting, the camera will measure the light level and in most cases, will actually pop / charge the flash for firing purposes and without your realizing it, it turns out that your silhouette photo would have converted into something else. You could still have shot a great photo, but not what you had originally desired to do.

Tip 1053 (Be careful of the sun): Now, when you people say that you should have a background that is brighter, a lot of people tend to think of the sun. Be very careful, and do not look towards the bright sun through the lens of the camera (or as a health issue, don’t look at the sun directly). The only time you can probably look at the sun is when it is setting or rising, but at all counts you need to be careful, and if you are teaching children, then probably you should not even tell them about sunrise or sunset as time when you can watch the sun by taking some care.

Tip 1054 (Give plenty of space in the frame): Silhouettes work best when the subject(s) in the photo does not cover too much of the frame of the photo. If you are photographing a building and the building occupies too much of the frame of the photo, then what you are going to get is a massively blacked out building and not the beautiful creation that you were looking to get. Silhouettes work best when you see the outline of an object against the lighter openness, and for that you should be ensuring that your subjects do not cover more than 25-30% of the frame of the photo.

Tip 1055 (Keep it simple): It is no surprise that when you look at most successful silhouettes, they do not cover sports, wildlife (active) or racing or even the hustle or bustle of an urban area. Silhouettes look good when the composition is great (true), but also look great when there are not too many elements in the photo. So, beach shots where humans and/or animals with the setting/rising sun look great, and you can stretch this to a couple of people playing frisbee, but that is about it. You can get shots with a lot of elements in the silhouette, but there is nothing for the viewer to quickly catch in such a silhouette and due to the basic nature of the silhouette, there are not too many other details that the viewer can make out in such a photo.

Some instructional books from Amazon:

The Absolute Beginner’s Guide to Taking Photos Like a Pro Learning to Craft Light with Canon Speedlites The Digital Photography Book, Part 4

Videos from Youtube:

How to make and shoot silhouettes photos

Taking A Sunset Silhouette Photo

Shooting a silhouette

Read the next part of this series (How to shoot great silhouettes – Part 3)

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