Monday Photography Tip: Silhouettes

I received a comment from a new reader the other day, who complimented me on the photo of my son looking at the sting-ray swimming in that huge aquarium in New Orleans.  (“I want one of these in my living room.”) 

I really appreciated her compliment, but more than that, I appreciated her willingness to comment at all.  I love hearing from y’all, so please leave comments!  (Also, if you have any friends who you think might like to read my blog, pass along the site address and tell them to visit–I love getting new readers!  Of course, I love my old readers, too.  Not that you’re old, in age….but, you know what I mean.  I’m going to stop now.  Goodbye.)

Okay, so what does all that blabber have to do with photography tips?  Well, when I replied to the comment, I very briefly told her how I achieved the silhouette.  As I was typing my reply, I realized I should post a tip on how to achieve silhouettes.  

So, here it is. 

While I was looking at this humongous aquarium in the Audubon Aquarium of the Americas, I took note of my light.  This is what I knew about my particular situation: The room was dark.  The only light was coming from the aquarium.  I didn’t want to use my flash. 

…It was a perfect set-up for a silhouette.  

Here are some things to consider when creating a silhouette photograph:

  • light should be coming from behind the subject
  • subject’s shape should be simple, strong and distinct (i.e. you can tell that is a person standing in front of the aquarium, even though you can’t see details)
  • you must turn OFF your flash (So, if you are shooting in Auto-Program–the green box on your camera dial–the flash will most likely pop up.  Turn it off.)
  • make sure the subject’s background is simple and uncluttered
  • position your subject in front of the brightest spot, if applicable (i.e. if your subject is in front of a sunset, for example, place your subject in front of the sun, to block that burst of light)
  • expose for the light, not the subject (more on that in a future Tip, I promise)


Okay, my friends, there you go! 

Be on the lookout for opportunities to take some silhouette shots.

Happy shooting,



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