January 2013
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How to shoot great silhouettes – 5 Tips – Part 4

Read the previous part of this series (How to Shoot Great Silhouettes – Part 3)

Tip 1061 (May need to take multiple shots for shooting a good silhouette): Given a few of the challenges including the need to have focus on the subject and exposure set on the more brighter background, it can sometimes be difficult to get a good silhouette photo right on the first attempt. Also keep in mind that if your subject is soft and not sharply focused, the small LCD screen may not be able to convey that, especially since the subject tends to be darker. A soft subject can become more evident only when you have downloaded the shots onto a computer and viewing on the larger computer screen; hence when shooting, view the results more carefully and if there is any doubt, shoot more shots.

Tip 1062 (Keeping the light source behind the subject): If you have the flexibility, ensure that you are placing the light source directly behind the subjects (or multiple subjects). This increases the light being strong behind the subject rather than to the side, and as a result, you get a much better effect in the photo.

Tip 1063 (Need a less cluttered background): A good silhouette comes out well if the background is clear with not too many objects. A clear sky with the sun about to set gives a great background, instead of which if you are using a background with multiple objects (people, buildings, trees, etc), then the effect does not come out so well. Now, keep in mind that there will be some photos where a cluttered background comes out well, but these are mostly the exception, and can be tried as an experimentation. If you are starting out with taking silhouettes, then keep your background simple and brighter than the objects in the foreground.

Tip 1064 (Keep people facing at right angles rather than straight towards you or away from you): When you have objects in the foreground, there are no details visible in the photo other than an outline. So, if you have people in the photo who are either facing towards you or away from you, there can be no details visible in the photo other than the general outline of a person. If you really want the physical outline of a person to be visible such the nose, the lips, etc, then they need to be facing at right angles to you. It is only then that the outline of a person will be visible in the silhouette.

Tip 1065 (Try to leave some details in the silhouette): In previous tips, we have stated that silhouettes look great when there are no details shown for objects in the foreground, only an outline. However, like any other such rule, there are exceptions. You can try not removing all the details in the photo and seeing how it looks; there are cases where such photos also look great. You could even try shining some light on specific portions of the subjects so that desired features show some detail and see how this comes out. The name of the game is experimentation.

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 (Shooting great silhouettes – Part 4)

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