We’ve all seen them before.  Those dark, featureless shadows set against a properly exposed background.  But how is it done?  How can we pull off a great silhouette image ourselves?

Well, the answer is… easy!

A silhouette image is basically a dark shape set against a lighter background.  It mirrors what our eye sees when there is backlighting but no light in front, such as when someone stands in front of the sun, there is brightness behind and darkness in front.

Recreating this effect is quite simple.  Just expose for the background.  Easy.

On your DSLR camera choose ‘spot metering’ and aim the sensor at a part of the image you want to be well exposed, such as the sunset behind your model.  Then change your shutter speed, aperture, or ISO accordingly to properly expose that area of the frame.

Once that is done, it’s just a matter of recomposing your shot and pressing the shutter release.  Voila. There you have it, a silhouette.

See, it’s that easy.

Of course, there are different degrees of silhouette.  The subject doesn’t necessarily have to be a black shape with no detail, some of the best silhouette photographs out there have been taken with the intent of leaving a little detail in the subject.  This would mean using a slightly slower shutter speed, or alternatively, an f-stop one or two stops down.

So now that you know how to produce a silhouette, go give it a try.  They can be taken anywhere, at anytime.  Have a play around and see what you can come up with.

Happy Shooting!

Pics By Nick - Boat Silhouette

Pics By Nick - Mountain Silhouette

Pics By Nick - Palm Tree Silhouette