How To Shoot Great Looking Silhouette Photos

Lets shoot some Silhouette Photos


Shooting Silhouette photos can be fun and it can produce some amazing looking images people tend to love looking at.

A Silhouette photo or image is most of the time a subject that is dark with no detail in the subject and with a brighter background that looks great making the dark subject stand out creating the Silhouette look to the image.

Silhouette photography has been used for years as a way to create a wow factor in a photo and has also been used for many commercial photos making stunning images for ads and magazines.

Making a Silhouette photo is not hard but it will take some skill and it takes the right light at the right time. Also with images editing in Lightroom or Photoshop you take the image to the next level by giving it a pop of color and contract to make the photos into a amazing Silhouette photo.


I Use The Sun To Create Silhouette Photos


Because i shoot at the beach all the time shooting weddings and family beach portraits i use the sun to create my Silhouette photos.

Some days are much better then others for creating a stunning Silhouette. It is best on a bright clear day with not to many clouds in the sky and for me i like to shoot starting one hour before sunset as you want the sun behind your subject and that can hard at 12 noon. At sunset the sun is down at a angle that you can place your subject in front of the sun using the powerful light from the sun to create your Silhouette.

You can also use flash power behind your subject to create a Silhouette as well i have done that at times when the sun was just not very good do to a overcast day but with the ski not being lit up with a dynamic look the image dose not have the same impoact as a good sunny day. But for a inside shot image with back lighting it can look very good and once you know how to do this it will take your images into a new area giving you more trick in your photography bag.

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Lets Get It Done Shooting A Silhouette Photo

This is how i shoot a Silhouette photo. First i shoot all raw files all the time no need to ever not shoot raw plus with the raw files you have a ton of headroom when editing your Silhouette images.

Camera settings for me i shoot my Silhouette photos in the manual camera mode as using other setting can mess you up as you are dealing with very bright light your camera dose not like so you should take control and make it do what you want.

First go shoot on a good sunny day then as the sun is setting place your subject with their back to the sun right in front of the sun so they are blocking the very hot spot of the direct sun ball, Now use your camera and set the exposure for the bright background so the background is not blown out and looks great. With this much light from the sun your setting will be at a high F stop and shutter speed most of the time.

At this point if the background is bright and exposed right your subject should be way under exposed and dark looking you can take a test shot or two and tweak your settings. Then when everything is all set start shooting your subject so they are in sharp focus.

Have your subject do things that will look good as a Silhouette photo like hands and arms out or looking at each other touch the noise of each other or even holding something up and so on.

To get the best sunset Silhouette photos the sun needs to be very low so you only have a short amount of time to get your shots before the sun sets but you can still shoot after it sets using the after glow i call it. You can shoot many times for a good ten to fifteen minuets but you need to keep changing your camera settings changing your background exposure to keep up with the ever changing light changes as it gets darker and darker.

Editing your Silhouette photo

To get the real impact of a good Silhouette photo you need to edit it to bring out the colors and darken your subject even more.

What i do is add a lot of contrast this helps darken the subject, Then i play with the exposure to get the background looking good with a mix of the background and the subject, I might also add in some black I then start playing with the white balance to bring out a better color in the sky and i ad in some color vibrancy sometime a lot of it. As you play with the colors you can end up with many versions of the same image all looking great. 

A few Silhouette shooting tips

Based on how the sun is you can many times get your subject in the brighter part of the background by shooting from a lower angle.

When driving around and you see a great sunset grab your camera and look for cool things to shoot even a tree can look amazing as a Silhouette photo and every more so when edited. I like changing the white balance of the raw file and boosting the colors up to create bold colors and a new look.

Using a shadow area. If your subject is in a shadow area like under a under pass or in a  tunnel or in a good shade area not being hit by the sun you can many times do a Silhouette image at any times of the day as long as it is bright out.

So their you have it go out and shoot some amazing Silhouette photos and enjoy your camera a little more. Thanks for reading.

A Gallery Of Some Of My Silhouette Photos

1 Comment

  1. Donna Morgan on November 15, 2017 at 10:49 pm

    All of the Wedding images on this website were photographed by Ed Morgan former owner of Grand Beach Weddings!

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