January 2013
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How to shoot great silhouettes – 5 Tips – Part 6

Read the previous part of this series (Shooting great silhouettes – Part 5)

Tip 1071 (Using different colors for background): I used to consider the yellow orange color of sunrise or sunset as the ideal one to shoot silhouettes. And some of these lead to really great silhouettes. And then I saw some beautiful silhouettes where the composition was that of people against a blue background. It took some looking, since the color was a beautiful blue, but overall the effect was very pleasing. And the advantage of using a studio posed background is that the color can be replaced through a software program (Photoshop, Photoshop Elements or Lightroom) such that you can experiment with the colors of the background.

Tip 1072 (Subjects may be recognizable): This tip has been stated in some form earlier, but needs to be repeated to be sure that things are crystal clear. You might be thinking that things are very clear as you are framing your photo, but then when you look at the photo, things do not come out as clear as you thought that they would. You can shoot a great looking building (looks great in the daytime), but when you get a profile as part of the silhouette, it does not look like anything (literally, you could get a rectangular or irregular shape in your photo and wondered what to do with such a photo). So, you need to be careful that when you are shooting such a photo, the objects are set such that the outline of the objects are recognizable enough to make a good silhouette.

Tip 1073 (See whether you can get shimmer of sun on water): Some of the classiest silhouette photos are available when you have a person on a beach, with the shimmer of the sun on the water. A number of such photos that I have seen do not even show the sun, just the way that the water seems to shimmer. Through this capture, you will find that your camera makes objects in the foreground almost totally black, giving you a perfect silhouette look.

Tip 1074 (Look for a large depth of field): The depth of field in the photo determines which all parts of the photo are in focus, and which all are out of focus. For the case of silhouettes, it is typically recommended that the subject and as much of the background as possible should be in focus. For this purpose, the aperture should not be very large, so my attempt is to always go for more than f/5.6, even upto f/16 (however there are other challenges related to exposure and amount of light available as the aperture reduces).

Tip 1075 (Learn from others): When you see people having shot great silhouettes (and people post such photos a lot to Flickr, 500px.com, Facebook groups, etc) compliment them and ask them about the camera settings and the EXIF information for the photo. Quite a few photographers will be more than willing to provide all this information, and I can guarantee you that you will learn a lot by reviewing this information, and then re-looking at the photo and comparing with what you would have done to see where you could improve.

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 post in this series (Shooting great silhouettes – Part 7)

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