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The Practicing Photographer

Shooting a silhouette


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The Practicing Photographer

with Ben Long

Video: Shooting a silhouette

Hi, welcome to the practicing photographer. He's not quite
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  1. 7m 18s
    1. Shooting a successful self portrait with a phone
      7m 18s
  2. 1m 35s
    1. Introducing The Practicing Photographer
      1m 35s
  3. 5h 10m
    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

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The Practicing Photographer
5h 19m Appropriate for all May 16, 2013 Updated Apr 17, 2014

Viewers: in countries Watching now:

In The Practicing Photographer, photographer and teacher Ben Long shares a weekly serving of photographic instruction and inspiration. Each installment focuses on a photographic shooting scenario, a piece of gear, or a software technique. Each installment concludes with a call to action designed to inspire you to pick up your camera (or your mouse or smartphone) to try the technique for yourself.

Subject:
Photography
Author:
Ben Long

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.

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