Silhouette Theme

Silhouette Theme Articles

As the members of the Peer Mentor Program improve their photo-eye it can be educational to have some monthly peer mentor themes that specifically emphasize composition.  Taking these photos and “voting” on these compositional themes should begin with thoughtful consideration of the chosen theme.   

A silhouette is created when you photograph a subject against a bright background where the viewer only sees the shape of the subject.  These photographs typically take a minimalist approach where the “background” typically has the majority of the frame and is properly exposed, while the “subject” is very dark with no detail.

“Best Techniques for Shooting Silhouette Photography” by Jenn Mishra and Tamara Kedves in Expert Photography.  This is an extremely good introduction to how to shoot a silhouette photo including a definition, a clear explanation of how to set the camera exposure, how to meter your your camera (they suggest f11 with exposure compensation of about -0.3 or 0.6).  They have a diverse set of photo examples with an emphasis on where you stand in relation to the subject and light.  Great article to start with good examples !

“How to Create a Silhouette in 4 Easy Steps” by Lisa Tichana in in Clicking Moms.  This basic article has a number of good examples and explains how the background is critical, the camera setting should start with manual mode, and puts an emphasis on composition.  

“14 Tips for Shooting Stunning Silhouette” by Jenny Harless in Improve Photography.  Jenny starts by saying that good silhouette are not as difficult as you might think to shootout there are some critical ingredients: bright background; minimal distractions; think portraits; and silhouette can be very useful in family photography.   Many good examples, especially for portraits.

“Silhouette Photography 101: Master the Basics”  in Format.  This article has many of the suggestions in previous articles: good backlighting; sunrise/sunset; portraits; no distractions; manual mode exposure.  The article also emphasizes sharp focus on both foreground and background and that it is best to shoot from a position lower than the silhouette.

“How to take Silhouette Photos in 7 Easy Steps”  in Presets and Actions by Anna Gay a portrait photographer which shows in her suggestions.  She has the usual suggestions: backlighting, shoot in manual mode.  She also emphasizes the importance of ensuring the silhouette is super sharp with defining edges.  She also suggest Blacks, Shadows, Clarity & Contrast in LR.

“How to Photograph Silhouettes in 8 Easy Steps” by Darren Souse in Digital Photography School.  As the last example of a helpful article, this DPS article is in support of the five articles: choose a strong subject that is recognizable; keep the subject sharp; make sure the silhouette is distinct and uncluttered (avoid overlap).  But Darren also added a “partial silhouette” where there is a clear outline of the person but where you can see some of personal detail.

YouTube Video

For folks that haven’t shot silhouettes. This video talks about composition and settings.

This one is good for the first 3:26 sec and shows how to use the spot meter to generate a silhouette.

This is short and shows some simple things to do in LR to correct the silhouette.