Sunday, July 15, 2007

Silhouette Photography

What is a Silhouette?
A silhouette is a classic and dramatic photographic technique. By isolating the outline of a subject while eliminating detail, a silhouette places tremendous emphasis on shape and contrast. It's not only popular for portrait photography, but also landscapes and nature photography. While traditional SLR cameras made the process of creating a silhouetted shot a matter of manual exposure adjustment, the automatic nature of digital cameras makes achieving this effect more difficult. However, it's not impossible to shoot silhouettes with your digital camera if you follow a few simple guidelines.

In photography, a silhouette is defined as an outline that appears dark against a light background. More specifically, it is where your subject is seen as a black shape without detail against a brighter background. This is an artistic outcome that many photographers like to perfect. This effect can be achieved with any kind of bright light source, but of course the most commonly used is the sun around sunrise or sunset. The backlighting from the sun shadows everything towards you and produces this effect.

Silhouette Techniques
When you are getting ready to take your silhouette pictures, there are a couple things to keep in mind. These tips work for both digital and film photography. Make sure you never point the lens directly at the sun. If there is too much light, the light will fall on your object. If there is not enough light, your background will become gray. The main key to silhouette lighting is having your background lighter than your object, but this can be done in more ways then one. Many photographers focus on a certain time of day, where their subject is, what kind of weather there is, and where the sun positioned in the frame. See above image...

Other Options

There are quite a few more options to tweak your camera to get a silhouette just right, but they depend of the capacity of your camera. Some cameras offer a specific picture mode that adjusts your camera to take a silhouette. Others offer manual control over your exposure system that can help get the right shot. When setting these manual controls, keep in mind that a good silhouette comes from a fast shutter speed, a slower aperture, negative exposure compensation, and a higher film speed. It's hard to recommend exact settings for the wide range of scenes you'll find yourself in when shooting silhouettes, but take advantage of every feature your camera has and find out which setting works best for you.

Silhouette Shooting Style
It's digital, so shoot away! Take as many shots as you have memory to give you the widest range of shots to choose from. Experiment with different exposure settings -- you can always check the EXIF data later to see what the settings were when you captured that perfect silhouette. Try changing your point of view or rearranging your subject to emphasize the most identifiable features. Remember that your LCD preview screen is your best friend in situations like these -- no more waiting until your film gets processed to see your results. This digital camera standard feature is the best way to make sure you got the correct shot while you're still at the scene. And, as always, it's a good idea to use a tripod to minimize camera vibrations and ensure that your subject's edges are distinct.

True to form

The use of silhouettes is a great technique for creating mood and emphasizing line. Hopefully, this article has shown you that shooting silhouettes doesn't have to be difficult. By playing a few tricks on your camera, you can create stunning silhouettes of your own.

But all of these, keep in mind the number one Rule in Photography, "the Rule of Third"...

What is The Rule of Third?

The Rule of Thirds is a guideline that photographers use to help them compose, center and frame their photographs. According to the rule of thirds, a frame can be divided into nine equal sections by dividing the space with two horizontal lines and two vertical lines. Framing the center, the lines will produce four corners points, known as “power points” .

A photographer should then orient the central focus of his picture at or in the middle of any of these four power points. The effect of the resulting picture will change depending on where the subject is placed. If the subject is located at one of the top corners, the image will take on a stronger, more imposing tone. Conversely, an image centering on either of the bottom two power points will appear more demure, mysterious and secretive.

The image can also be located in the direct center of all four power points. If this is the case, the final picture will appear more balanced and direct.

By applying and manipulating the rule of thirds, a photographer can make his photos more artistic, adding a remarkable degree of dynamism and dimension.


rieaane said...

great post, i like silhouette photographs and this will help me a lot. Your third pic is a masterpiece!

Quincy John said...

ha3 yeah! i love both styles.

silhouette and rule of the third are simple great photography strategies for me.

I often use them.

Sadly, i don't have my own digi SLR yet!! waaaaa! mama!!


enjoyed the post.

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