This week, experiment with light and capture a silhouette.

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Photography is all about experimenting with light, and then positioning yourself (or your subject) in the right spot to achieve a certain effect. One such effect is a silhouette, in which an outline of someone or something appears dark against a lighter background. Silhouettes can be very dramatic and resemble black shapes without any details, but the effect varies from picture to picture.

While strolling on Waikiki Beach in Hawaii, I snapped a photo of a couple taking a picture of the sunset:

Sunset on Waikiki Beach in Hawaii

Quick Tips:

  • Place your subject in front of a light source.
  • Keep the background simple and uncluttered.
  • Create clean lines and distinct shapes. (You don’t want to photograph a blob!)
  • Move around — the light will change with each angle.

I was walking quickly, and when I clicked the shutter, I wasn’t sure of the final result. But when I looked through my shots later that night, I was unexpectedly pleased with this image. I captured a distinct silhouette of two people (and an extended arm holding a camera), a nice contrast between sea and sky, and a bonus detail — a sailboat in the horizon on the left, which I didn’t see when I took the picture.

This week, share a photo with a silhouette. Revisit Wenjie Zhang’s post on the quality of light for quick tips on backlight, or dive into silhouette tutorials by Digital Photography School and PetaPixel for more guidance.

We’d love to see you experiment with your positioning, POV, and the time of day of shooting. Have fun!

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  1. i want to share this picture showing beautiful wooden hand-carved puppets. it was taken after watching a puppet show at the teatroarte cuticchio in the town of cefalù located in the northern coast of sicily. the show featured battle scenes between the normans and the saracens in the 11th century.


  2. Love silhouettes! This is a really cool shot. I just started a blog and last posted about how I used photoshop to edit my photo. I love these reading these “how to” kind of posts when it comes to photography. Check out my most recent post; I would love to hear pointers from you :)

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  3. In The Netherlands we have more bicycles than inhabitants. We have paths where they can move freely; a big bicycycle infrastructure next to roads for cars and other road users. This bridge is part of that infrastructure. Quite elaborate and not standard, but a nice silhouette.


  4. What a beautiful picture!
    My Mom loves to take pictures in a silhouette, but I won’t stand still long enough for her to take a good one..
    Maybe one day, I often hear her say.. ;)


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