Taking an image of a silhouette is a creative way to capture the color and drama of sunrises and sunsets as well as an ideal way of emphasizing the outline and shape of a person or object. Capturing silhouettes isn’t very hard to do as long as the person or item is being backlit by the sun or another source of light.
With the light behind your subject, the person or object will be made to look black on camera while the rest of the photo will be able to show its natural colors. To be honest, just about anything can make for a great silhouette shot, such as a person, building, landmark, plant, or landscape.
Most silhouettes are simple images and not too complex. Many photographers like to emphasize the shape of the subject so viewers can tell what it is even though they can’t see the fine details of it. You’d be amazed at how many things in this world you can identify simply by seeing the shape of them. In fact, some of them may even look better as a silhouette.
Since you need the sun to be behind your subject, it’s a good idea if you know exactly what it is you’re going to be shooting before sunset or sunrise. However, there will be instances when you’re simply taking a walk and will come across something that will make a great image. The colors of the sky and surroundings change pretty quickly and dramatically when the sun’s setting and rising, so it’s good to have your camera ready for them.
If possible, be in your location and ready to shoot when the colors start to change during these times. You never know how the sky will look as it’s so unpredictable, so it’s a good idea to hang around for at least 20 or 30 minutes so you don’t miss a once-in-a-lifetime scene. The position of the clouds in the sky will often affect the image and you should look around you 360 degrees to make sure you’re not missing anything.
Taking a tripod with you is a good idea, especially on a windy day. For example, if you’re planning on taking shots of trees or plants, the wind can often affect your plans. The scene will already be in low light and a breeze could move the object just enough to create a blurry photo. A tripod will help you out if you plan on using a very fast shutter speed. Of course, you can also experiment with motion blur and see how the shots turn out.
While most photographers take photos of silhouettes when they sun is coming up or going down, you can also get some great images in the middle of the day. This is possible as long as the person or subject is being lit from behind. If the sun’s directly behind the subject you’ll be able to capture a silhouette. Again, take the time to experiment and let your creativity run wild. That’s what photography’s often all about.