What is silhouette photography
Silhouette photography is the technique used to create a solid and dark image of a subject on a brighter background by playing with the contrast between the subject (dark) and the background (light). The first silhouettes originated in France photography around 1850. Silhouette photography tends to show the dark outlines of subjects in front of bright and contrasting scenes, a dramatic contrast. It is often the photographer’s job to change the lighting differences or try to make the shadows more uniform as if they were monochromatic, making the shadows as deep and dark as possible.
Types of silhouettes.
When setting up a silhouette shot, you first decide which shapes and angles you want to emphasize within the photo. After choosing, you need to think about the type of silhouette photo you want to take. Broadly speaking, there are two types of silhouettes, one perfect and one partial; the first is that of the perfect silhouette. It is characterized by a completely dark subject, with a light source, as if the subject were in front of the sun. This type of silhouette is based on the recognizable shape of the subject and a clear, well-lit background. The second type is that of: it shows one side of the subject with a little light and the other side in the dark. A partial silhouette creates mystery and makes it appear as if a person is partially shrouded in darkness or emerges from the shadows. While both perfect and partial shapes can benefit from post-production, partial shapes in particular need more help to achieve the desired effect.
Lighting for silhouette photography
The right lighting is essential for silhouette photography and, we can say that a clear day is the best solution. The ideal time for outdoor silhouette photography is close to sunset or sunrise, as this is the time when the sun is lowest in the sky and is obscured by the atmosphere. Always make sure the subject is lit from behind. One very important thing to keep in mind: turn off the flash when taking silhouette photos! In fact, as little light as possible is needed in front of the subject to obtain the silhouette effect!
Manual or auto?
If you are new to silhouette photography my suggestion is to start with manual focus. Shooting manually allows you to experiment with settings until you get the exact exposure. You will need to speed up the shutter speed so that less light enters the camera, resulting in a shorter, darker exposure. If the subject is too dark, slow the shutter speed down to get an even brighter image.