Photography is drawing with light and this week’s Silhouette challenge firmly shows us that. A silhouette is about bringing together contrasts of a well-lit background against a dark subject, making the subject’s shape and outline as the main point of focus. A silhouette balances what the viewer sees alongside the darker toned facets of the subject that are intentionally kept hidden from the light.
Silhouettes are a great way to tell a story while leaving it up to the imagination of the viewer – there aren’t visible features to express emotion, so your viewer will fill in details depending on the context of the image – use this to direct your viewer’s line of thinking.
This is a lesson in exposure, composition and creativity all coming together. While silhouettes are commonly shot in the day and at golden / blue hours, you can absolutely shoot silhouettes at night too. This will work best when the object being shot is recognizable through their well-defined shape and outline.. Portraits, Still Life, Architecture and Nature typically make for good silhouette genres.
Silhouettes can often convey some kind of mystic story. By leaving the details in the dark, the story becomes compelling and the viewer is more engaged with the picture.
I would have loved to use these shots I took at Crete as they would have suited this challenge perfectly, but no, still I think they are great examples of silhouette! But I will have to come up with something new for the challenge or I could cheat… no, I won’t do that.
- Background Choice: Very often, we blur out the background and pay less attention to it. Here, pay a little extra attention to your choice of background. Make it contrast with the shape of your main subject.
- Narrow Aperture: Shoot with a relatively narrow aperture of f/8 or higher to reduce the amount of light falling on your sensor, getting great Depth Of Field and also reducing chromatic aberrations especially if you’re shooting into the light.
- Metering: We want to “trick” our camera into intentionally under-exposing the subject. So use spot metering or expose for the background.
- Post-processing: Use software wisely – in post processing, it’s generally helpful to boost the contrast in your image, add more saturation, and increase the blacks slightly to improve a silhouette shot.