Awesome iPhone Silhouettes
A silhouette is a view of an object, person, or entire scene shot with the sun behind the subject creating a dramatic outline and making the silhouetted object appear as if it were coloured in with black. Silhouettes are an incredibly popular photography technique, and they are certainly a great way to test your creativity and let your photographic skills really shine.
By Teresa Edri
What makes silhouettes so popular?
First, they’re dramatic – an awesome iPhone silhouette requires two things: an easy-to-distinguish subject and a background that is lighter than the foreground (ie backlit). When the viewer is unable to see all of the minute details in the actual subject it leaves lots of room for using imagination, something that is not present is most other types of photography. Next, they’re fun! They’re different to your standard portrait, and when beautifully shot make a fantastic way to set the scene. It is important to create some type of movement in silhouette photography to give the viewer a sense of what is happening in the photo. You’ll get a better idea of what we mean here simply by looking at some of the photos below. But for now, let’s get to the tips!
Some Subjects Are Better Than Others
When shooting silhouettes, it’s important to remember that the subject should be something striking, with an interesting shape. As we mentioned above, creating a sense of movement or using something that can be easily distinguished even if you can’t see the details is integral to creating an interesting silhouette. Think more about the outline of the subject rather than the detail as texture, tone, and color don’t really make any difference to the subject in this case.
Lighting is Key
Contrast is perhaps the most important thing to remember when shooting silhouette photography, what is lost in the color and detail of the subject is made up for in strong and interesting backlighting. The sun is always a great source of light, particularly a rising or setting sun, but you can also get great backlit shots in front of a window, in the aquarium, or in front of a projector screen in a dark room. The key thing to remember is that there should be NO LIGHT in front of the subject, so that means you should also be sure to turn your camera flash off.
I have plenty of things to be thankful for!
Also, remember the Golden Hour…that is, shoot when the sun naturally creates beautiful lighting. Silhouettes work particularly well at sunset given the beautiful hues created by the descending light. Don’t forget when shooting directly into the sun you can also create sun flares and use the natural objects around the scene (such as clouds and trees) to accentuate the subject.
- Everything should be in focus: this isn’t too difficult when shooting with your iPhone given the very small default aperture of the native camera app. However, if you are using the manual focus (in either the native camera app or in a replacement app) just be sure that you get as much as the scene as possible in focus.
- Rule of Thirds applies, but can easily be broken: if ever there was a time to break the rule of thirds shooting silhouettes is a great time to try breaking the rules! Given the fact that your subject will naturally create an interesting shape, it may sometimes be more appropriate for the subject to be in the center of the frame. Our best advice here is to shoot from several angles to give yourself a lot of options when editing your shots after the light is gone.
- Shoot with the light, or without: many silhouettes have some type of visible light (most often the sun), but it’s also fun to play around with hiding the light source to create a “glow” around your subjects.
- Shoot distinctive, uncluttered subjects: when you are shooting with several subjects in the frame, it is important to ensure that they are still clearly defined, if there is any awkward overlapping it may leave the viewer wondering what they’re actually looking at. Of course, that might also be what you’re going for…so use your discretion on this one!
Practice, Practice, Practice…
A day at the #museum
By Faiz Yamin
You know the old adage, practice makes perfect. As with any type of photography, this is certainly true. Explore what works and what doesn’t by trying out silhouettes whenever you have an opportunity, you’ll soon find what works for you!