I am sure you want your subject to be as sharp as possible, so all the details are clear. However, in this article, we discuss a technique that reduces the subject down to a solid black graphic shape with no detail so you will be able to make great digital photo silhouettes. Doing so leaves the viewer’s imagination to determine what the subject details might look like.
Silhouettes are used to convey drama and evoke an emotional response in a simple yet striking manner.
Below are the 3 ways to create magical digital photo silhouettes with your digital SLR camera:
1) Look at your light source – Typically, when taking a photo, you may have two sources of light, the natural ambient light and the light from your flash. If there are multiple sources of lights, try to shut some off or choose the brightest one for maximum effect.
To get a great silhouette, you can only have one light source, so turn off your flash. Not only will you heighten the contrast between the subject surrounding area, but you will ensure the subject comes out as dark as possible.
Next, identify the direction of the ambient light. Silhouettes come out best when your subject is between you and the light source.
2) Compose your image – Create a mental picture of the completed photo. The magic of a silhouette is in the graphic shape, so think how you want to position your subject in relation to the rest of the scene. Once you have a mental picture, place your subject in front of the light source at the correct angle to get the shape you want.
If you are not sure of what you want, experiment with different subject placements until you see one you like. When taking the silhouette of a person, experiment with the placement of the extremities and facial features.
3) Trick your camera – Most digital SLR cameras today are smart. In fact so smart we need to sometimes trick them to get what we want. We are of course talking about metering.
Metering is the way a digital photography camera determines the exposure settings for the photo. Remember, a camera is blind to most colors. It only senses the intensity of incident or reflected light. So when you meter a scene, it finds a shade of gray around middle-tone and sets the exposure accordingly.
This effectively means if your dark subject takes up a good part of the scene, your digital photography camera will increase the exposure to compensate. The problem is, that is not what we want; we want our subject to come out dark.
The way around this is to meter on a bright area in your scene, but without your subject in the viewfinder. Press your shutter button half-way down and continue holding.
Now with your shutter button half-way down, recompose by positioning your subject back in the viewfinder and then finish pressing the shutter button, thereby taking the photo. That’s it! You now have a great silhouette digital photo shot.