January 2013
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How to shoot great silhouettes – 5 Tips – Part 7

Read the previous part of this series (Shooting great silhouettes – Part 6)

Tip 1076 (Shooting with higher ISO): When you are shooting in the daytime, the ambient lighting condition is fairly satisfactory in terms of having enough light to shoot at 100 ISO and not have to worry about noise in the photo. However, as you start to shoot your silhouette photo in the evening or sunset, or even after, the ambient light condition degrades massively and it gets more difficult to get enough light to shoot, you either need to increase the aperture, reduce the shutter speed or increase ISO. Increasing aperture or reducing shutter speed beyond a certain point is not possible (aperture values have limits defined by the lens, and when you seek higher apertures, you need better lenses; below a certain shutter speed, the image will get blurred or look shaken). At such points, increasing the ISO may be something you need to do along with the adjustments in aperture or shutter speeds. If you have a good lens, then you can increase your ISO significantly without noise appearing in the photo, but everybody should know that as you increase the ISO, the noise in the photo increases and at some point, the image itself will get degraded. But till that point, you can use ISO adjustment for your silhouettes.

Tip 1077 (Use a tripod when light conditions are bad): As in the above tip, when light conditions are bad, then you would need to make some adjustments to ensure that you get enough light to get a decent photo. But, when you decrease your shutter speed below a certain point (some people believe that any shutter speed below 1/60 sec), it is enough to cause the image to show camera shake. And that is where the tripod comes in. Using a tripod helps in reducing the shutter speed to even > 1 sec and not having shake (if you have human subjects, you would have to ask them not to make movements during the time that the shutter is open though).

Tip 1078 (Use backlighting that makes the outline of the subject(s) glow): This primarily appeals when the photo is being taken of human subjects, but can be used in other cases as well. Consider some of those great silhouette photos you would have seen of a person or a couple against a background, with a dark main profile but with the edges of the profile glowing. Some of those types of photos look remarkable. Getting that glow around the profile can happen naturally when the sun is at a certain angle, but it can also be done by having an artificial light behind the subjects, such that the light ensures that there is a glow around the profile of the subjects.

Tip 1079 (Shooting members of a family, with younger members as well): Human emotions are tugged when you show photos of children, and you can use that to your advantage. When you are shooting silhouettes, one way to ensure that people like them better is to show some sort of family interaction in the photos, especially focusing on the younger members of the family. They can add a lot of emotion to a photo, especially due to more outstretched hands and feet.

Tip 1080 (Get people to wear tighter clothes rather than loose clothes): This is more of a specialized tip, but can count when you doing staged silhouettes. When people wear loose clothes, or wear thick winter clothing, their profile in silhouette photos can seem less human and more like a blob, so where possible, get people to wear tighter clothes that tends to outline the shape of their bodies.

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

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