New Feature: Playlist Center! Pick a topic and let our playlists guide the way.

Easy-to-follow video tutorials help you learn software, creative, and business skills.Become a member

Shooting a silhouette

From: The Practicing Photographer

Video: Shooting a silhouette

Hi, welcome to the practicing photographer. He's not quite

Shooting a silhouette

Hi, welcome to the practicing photographer. I'm Ben Long and normally I come here and talk to you about things like good exposure and evening out exposure, and doing all these things that are technically correct. This week we're throwing all that out the window. We're going to do some things that are technically incorrect, but, but are aesthetically the right choice for a particular subject matter. I'm standing here in silhouette. I am absolutely, technically incorrect. I am underexposed. You can't see me. But that doesn't mean that it's a bad picture to take a silhouette.

I've got Steven Kent here standing behind me on the edge of a cliff with a didgeridoo. Because he's back-lit, I immediately recognize this as a potential silhouette. In fact, my eye is not showing me a lot of detail. I can see that this is maybe a good time to shoot a silhouette, and when I do, I get this. He's not quite pure silhouette yet. I can still see some detail in him. So I'm going to dial in one stop of negative exposure compensation. Now we're getting somewhere. There's still a little bit of detail. I'm going to keep going.

Two stops of negative exposure compensation. I like that pose, Steven. And this is coming along. Now we're getting into pure silhouette and we're also bringing some really cool color out of the background. What makes for a good silhouette? Simplicity is the order of the day when you're going for a simple black outline of somebody. So that's why I immediately got down on the ground. By getting down on the ground I'm reducing the amount of landscape that's behind him. That gives me more of a view of his leg. The more of the subject thatI can reveal in the silhouette, the more recognizable it's going to be.

Obviously, for silhouette I need strong backlighting. Dusk is a great time for shooting silhouettes. Once I've identified the simple subject matter, I try to find a camera position to ensure that I'm getting as much simplicity as possible. I would not want to shoot him in front of a corn field or something where there's a lot of other visual, complication. And then it's just a matter of working the shot just as you always would, bracketing your negative exposure compensation, trying to play with how much silhouette you like. I will say that there's one thing that you may not think of right away, and that's using your fill flash.

By popping up a little bit of, or by popping in a little bit of flash, I get something that's mostly a silhouette but that still has a few foreground details. And that can be really interesting. What I like here is the, the white squares on his shirt light up more than the others, and they stand out a lot. They really reflect the flash. Having trouble. I need a wider lens here, or I need to move backwards. So, I put it to you to give this a try.

It's a, a very different way of looking at the world from the idea of perfectly correct exposure. Head out at dusk. Find some simple geometry somewhere. Put it against the back light of the setting sun. Lower your exposure with some negative exposure compensation and start shooting. To add a little bit of extra punch to the image, try popping up your flash and throwing in some fill flash. This is a technically incorrect exposure that might yield a very correct image.

Show transcript

This video is part of

Image for The Practicing Photographer
The Practicing Photographer

68 video lessons · 42367 viewers

Ben Long
Author

 
Expand all | Collapse all
  1. 3m 28s
    1. Understanding exposure with a leaf shutter camera
      3m 28s
  2. 1m 35s
    1. Introducing The Practicing Photographer
      1m 35s
  3. 6h 42m
    1. Choosing a camera
      5m 27s
    2. Looking at light as a subject
      2m 22s
    3. Using a small reflector to add fill light
      5m 45s
    4. Editing photo metadata with PhotosInfo Pro for iPad
      6m 30s
    5. Let your lens reshape you
      7m 26s
    6. Compositing street photography images with Photoshop
      7m 44s
    7. Expand your filter options with step-up and step-down rings
      3m 56s
    8. Shooting without a memory card
      3m 6s
    9. Give yourself a year-long assignment
      5m 28s
    10. Working with reflections
      1m 26s
    11. Exploring mirrorless cameras
      7m 25s
    12. Batch processing photos with the Adobe Image Processor
      7m 30s
    13. Limiting yourself to a fixed-focal-length lens
      2m 13s
    14. Creating tiny worlds: Shooting technique
      4m 15s
    15. Creating tiny worlds: Post-processing techniques
      11m 41s
    16. Shooting macro shots on an iPhone
      3m 18s
    17. Using a tripod
      3m 33s
    18. Wildlife and staying present
      5m 58s
    19. Batch exposure adjustments on raw files
      6m 52s
    20. Why Shoot Polaroid
      11m 12s
    21. Seizing an opportunity
      4m 4s
    22. Four photographers do a light-as-subject exercise
      12m 24s
    23. Shooting macro bug photos with a reversed lens
      4m 54s
    24. Varnishing a photo for a painterly effect
      13m 36s
    25. Shooting wildlife
      7m 24s
    26. Discussion on how to shoot architecture
      12m 27s
    27. Using a lens hood
      4m 48s
    28. Working with themes
      2m 48s
    29. Setting up an HDR time lapse
      7m 55s
    30. Processing an HDR time lapse
      7m 55s
    31. Two perspectives on travel photography
      12m 28s
    32. Scanning Photos
      5m 37s
    33. Photo assignment: shooting an egg
      3m 13s
    34. Reviewing the egg shot images
      6m 47s
    35. Shooting in your own backyard
      4m 38s
    36. Jpeg iPad import process
      3m 17s
    37. Shooting a product shot in open shade
      9m 34s
    38. Reviewing the product shot images
      4m 5s
    39. Warming up
      3m 26s
    40. Taking a panning action shot
      10m 17s
    41. Scanning polaroid negatives and processing in Photoshop
      8m 17s
    42. Shooting a silhouette
      3m 9s
    43. Going with an ultra-light gear configuration
      5m 29s
    44. Working with masks and calculations in Photoshop
      12m 38s
    45. Working with flash for macro photography
      4m 55s
    46. Colorizing a black and white photo in Photoshop
      5m 10s
    47. Using duct tape and zip ties in the field
      4m 14s
    48. When the on camera flash is casting a shadow
      3m 4s
    49. Using Lightroom on the road
      6m 28s
    50. Listening to your camera to get good exposure
      2m 20s
    51. Shooting a successful self portrait with a phone
      7m 18s
    52. Switching to Lightroom from another application
      9m 48s
    53. Photographing animals in wildlife refuges
      6m 41s
    54. Shooting level
      2m 42s
    55. Photoshop and Automator
      8m 54s
    56. Shooting when the light is flat
      3m 23s
    57. Discussing the business of stock photography
      9m 48s
    58. Shooting tethered to a monitor
      3m 21s
    59. Making a 360 degree panorama on the iPhone
      4m 45s
    60. Understanding the three flash setup
      3m 34s
    61. Shooting a three flash portrait
      4m 6s
    62. Understanding the differences with third party lenses
      4m 43s
    63. Understanding why files look different on depending on device
      5m 25s
    64. Working with a geotagging app on the iPhone
      4m 43s
    65. Using high speed flash sync to dim ambient light
      7m 29s
    66. Using your iPad as a second monitor
      5m 46s

Start learning today

Get unlimited access to all courses for just $25/month.

Become a member
Sometimes @lynda teaches me how to use a program and sometimes Lynda.com changes my life forever. @JosefShutter
@lynda lynda.com is an absolute life saver when it comes to learning todays software. Definitely recommend it! #higherlearning @Michael_Caraway
@lynda The best thing online! Your database of courses is great! To the mark and very helpful. Thanks! @ru22more
Got to create something yesterday I never thought I could do. #thanks @lynda @Ngventurella
I really do love @lynda as a learning platform. Never stop learning and developing, it’s probably our greatest gift as a species! @soundslikedavid
@lynda just subscribed to lynda.com all I can say its brilliant join now trust me @ButchSamurai
@lynda is an awesome resource. The membership is priceless if you take advantage of it. @diabetic_techie
One of the best decision I made this year. Buy a 1yr subscription to @lynda @cybercaptive
guys lynda.com (@lynda) is the best. So far I’ve learned Java, principles of OO programming, and now learning about MS project @lucasmitchell
Signed back up to @lynda dot com. I’ve missed it!! Proper geeking out right now! #timetolearn #geek @JayGodbold

Are you sure you want to delete this note?

No

Thanks for signing up.

We’ll send you a confirmation email shortly.


Sign up and receive emails about lynda.com and our online training library:

Here’s our privacy policy with more details about how we handle your information.

Keep up with news, tips, and latest courses with emails from lynda.com.

Sign up and receive emails about lynda.com and our online training library:

Here’s our privacy policy with more details about how we handle your information.

   
submit Lightbox submit clicked
Terms and conditions of use

We've updated our terms and conditions (now called terms of service).Go
Review and accept our updated terms of service.