There is something very uncomplicated about photographing silhouettes and I have always been a big fan of them, actively going out of my way to create such pictures. It’s probably because I like simplicity in my images. A silhouette is a subject stripped right down to its basic shape – everything else has been eliminated – and it’s this graphic simplicity that I find appealing. Silhouettes are also a very effective way to emphasise a subject, forming the focal point of the picture even when they’re quite small in the frame. And what’s more, they’re really easy to create, which is another reason why I like them!
Subjects that work best are those that have an instantly recognisable outline such as a tree, person, building, or wildlife. Whilst in theory most subjects can be thrown into silhouette, some will definitely work better than others. What I try to avoid is a subject that has no obvious features or lacks a distinct shape. Silhouettes of ‘blobs’ just don’t look great!
The fundamental ‘rule’ for a successful silhouette is to shoot the subject against a much brighter background, most typically the sky. It’s important that the front of the subject isn’t lit by any direct light, which means shooting towards the brightest light source with the side of the subject facing you in shadow. It’s also important that ...