Capture Dramatic Silhouette Photos with These Simple Tips & Tricks (VIDEO)

One way to give photos a different and dramatic look is to cast your subjects in a totally different light. In other words, expose for stunning silhouettes and forget about details. As you’ll see in the video below, this creative approach is easy to accomplish, and you needn’t limit your subjects to people.

Apropos for this tutorial, photographer Ray Scott says, “It’s not what you see, it’s what you CAN’T see” that makes this style of shooting so compelling. Scott begins by explaining why it’s best to shoot early in the morning or late in the day. That’s because at those times the sun is lower in the sky, resulting in plenty of shadow in front of your subject with a lot of light in back.

Scott usually sets his camera to the Manual exposure mode, and exposes for the sky. He then recomposes the scene with his main subject properly positioned, and takes the shot. That is often all it takes to obtain rich black silhouettes. Another way to get the job done is with the camera set to Aperture Priority, and use two or three stops of minus exposure compensation.

As Scott explains further, achieving optimum results often depends upon the brightness of the background as compared to your subject. That’s why it’s almost impossible to create really good silhouettes when shooting at midday with a lot of light on your subject.

After explaining the above basics, Scott pulls up a few of his best silhouette images and delves deeper into this topic. He demonstrates how to refine results depending upon the setting in question. With scenes comprising more than one important element, sometimes you’ll have to make a few exposure tweaks after metering for the sky.

Other times, even with a “perfect” silhouette, “shape” can be a very important compositional consideration. That’s because once subjects go black, there’s very little detail in the shot. Scott offers a number of other tips and tricks for shooting silhouettes, including how to add emotional impact to your images. And one of the best things about this type of photography is that it doesn’t require any special gear or preparation.

You can find more great ideas on Scott’s YouTube channel, and in a story we posted yesterday with what one pro says is the best gear for landscape photography.