How to Capture Stunning Silhouettes

How to Capture Stunning Silhouettes

Silhouette photography is a unique style of shooting the outline of a scene or object. The interior normally remains featureless and appears black. Clicking a silhouette image is not rocket science. This image is clicked by pitching the light from the background and not lighting the object form the front. Silhouettes are usually unique, interesting and beautiful.

I love silhouette photos for their simplicity and creativity. Normally, they do not appear in bright colors but they convey clear messages. Silhouette photos are at their best during sunrise and sunset.

However, they are sometimes taken underwater as well. The black, orange and red colors on the images give a pleasant feeling. So, how to shoot such stunning silhouettes? I have compiled a few tips for you on how to capture stunning silhouettes.


Telephoto Lens

Silhouettes usually require a less focused background to draw attention to the subject. A telephoto lens will be useful to reduce the depth of the field. This might not be required at all times. Telephoto lens will come handy when you have large backgrounds.

Proper Lighting

Stunning silhouettes are created when there is a single source of light behind the silhouette image. The light source has to be partially covered by the silhouette image in order to get the exact exposure ratio. Turning off the flash in the camera is essential to click a perfect silhouette image. Correct the lighting in the background to arrive at a perfect picture. More light will make your object visible and less light will make your background grey. Both these will ruin the image completely. It is best advised to keep the background lighter than the subject and have medium lighting.

Avoid Wind

If you intend to photograph silhouettes of plants and trees, the wind challenges you. A very slight breeze is enough to make the plant shake and spoil your photograph. The simplest way to avoid this is by shooting at sunrise and not at sunset. You can experience calm wind in the mornings when compared to the noon and evening winds. Wake up early if you like to get a stunning silhouette of a tree or plant.

Wide Aperture

What does a wide aperture do? It makes the background out of focus as much as possible and helps in getting a quicker shutter speed. A fast shutter speed is vital to battle strong winds.

Subject Simplicity

You might be fascinated by a plant that is visually unappealing, but has some strong qualities in it. Some plants might be overgrown and do not have a photogenic shape. If you like to make them look the best, shoot a single branch of it at sunset. The beautiful colors displayed in the sky will make a perfect background for the single branch. Pay attention to minute details like thorns, buds and the like, so that your silhouette is admired.

Decide the Subject

Silhouettes generally highlight the shape of an object or image hence, it is important to choose a nice and balanced or unbalanced shape which is visually appealing. Locating such a subject will consume some time, so it is necessary to decide the subject well in advance. The best method to follow will be to take position before 30 minutes of sunrise or sunset.

These techniques will make you an amazing silhouette photographer. Creativity along with the right pictures, background and lighting is vital for silhouette photography. As the saying goes, “Early bird catches the worm”, get up early tomorrow and try your hand at a sunrise silhouette photo. All the best!

11 Responses to “How to Capture Stunning Silhouettes”

  1. Chat says:

    Very good and interesting site with very good look and perfect information I like it.

  2. Sonia says:

    Thank you for sharing these nice tips. They’re simple yet very helpful to who is new (like me) in photography. I’ve learned something more about silhouette and photography. Thanks again!

  3. Santosh says:

    Awesome post. I’m very appreciate your tips and picture, Thanks for sharing this post.

  4. christina says:

    Thank God for photography. I’d love to witness it for myself but i don’t get out the house really, let alone far and away. Stunning evening shots!

    Read more:–Wild-animals-beautifully-captured-silhouette-photographer-captures-rising-setting-sun.html#ixzz2D2Kfr6eh
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  5. Cameron says:

    Great silhouette photographs! I especially love number 5. The composition, colours, and saturation was amazing. This is a perfect example of great eye, perfect timing, and using technique. Good job.

  6. Jazmin Drew says:

    Last few days I was looking for exact this information from here to there & finally its on your blog site. I’m really happy with your blog & will share it with my friend.

  7. Clarkmartin says:

    Excellent silhouette photographs! I especially love number 5. The composition, colours, and saturation was amazing. This is a perfect example of great eye, perfect timing, and using technique. Good job.

  8. PhotoJake says:

    I love it!
    I am beginner photographer and I am always looking for new ways to create unique photos.
    This sounds very doable even for me.
    I wish I could create silhouette of trees next to my hometown (my personal special place from childhood) – I hope wind wont spoil it for me.
    Thanks Jessica for great post!

  9. Sarah Park says:

    Thanks for sharing your techniques in capturing that wonderful photo above. I love it a lot! I am actually more fond of silhouette photos since this gives more drama to a shot.

  10. Mandy says:

    Awesome. I’ve always wondered how to score a silhouettes. I’m lucky enough to live in a beach town, I’ll have to head down their tonight and practice what I’ve learned.

  11. Lily Sullivan says:

    I love the techniques! I love when I get my silhouettes right and with the proper explanations, I think I know now how to make sure as to not mess it up 🙂 Thank you for taking your time to share your knowledge!

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