Getting more out of your Camera: Silhouettes

Wednesday, 24 July 2013

I love a good silhouette, don't you?

Esrum So, Denmark
Looking through my photo archive recently, I realised that I have quite a few interesting silhouette shots, so I thought I'd post a few of them on the blog and share some tips with you all.

Tintagel, Cornwall
Tips for Shooting Silhouettes

1. Get enough light behind your subject and turn off your flash
We've all taken an accidental silhouette of someone standing in front of a window with light behind them ~ in this case, that's the effect we want! The stronger the background light, the darker your silhouette will be.

Bodiam Castle, East Sussex

2. Look for simple, interesting shapes

You don't want to overcomplicate this kind of shot, let the outline and the light do the talking...

Sheepscombe, Gloucestershire

3. People shots don't need to be posed

Candid shots of individuals and groups of people can be very effective

Ground Zero, New York

Georgia Aquarium, Atlanta

4. Consider a colour-wash effect

This makes for an interesting shot. Orange works well for sunsets...

Cartagena, Colombia

5. Use bracketing to get the level of contrast you want

I wrote about bracketing here. Set your camera's AEB function to take 3 consecutive shots at different exposure levels. The more you close down your lens aperture, the darker your picture will be. If you have a strong light source behind your subject, you'll get a great-looking silhouette.

I think sometimes it pays to keep some detail and colour in your subject, giving more of a semi-silhouette look...

Metropolitan Museum Roof Terrace, New York
Sheepscombe, Gloucestershire

A bit of texture can be effective as well, as with these curtains...

Jade, London

Light is really fun to play with in photography and I'm a big fan of silhouettes and shadows. Stay on the lookout for opportunities this week, especially if your country's currently in summertime!


  1. I love the last shot of the cat in the window. Also, very jealous that you've managed to get strawberries to grow in your garden... I've still got my green thumb training wheels on and have limited myself to succulents and cacti at our place because I'm so sick of killing all the plants! Hope you're having a wonderful week. x Catherine @ The Spring Blog

    1. That's Jade! We have new windows now with much smaller sills, so her perching post has disappeared... I am quite proud of my fruit & veg this year, it's taken me years to figure out what works and what doesn't on my patch. Not that I'm yielding very much I have to admit - they'll be no vats of jam or chutney believe me - one summery lunch and it's all gone!


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