Silhouettes combine two of my favorite things: incredible skies and my clients! I have been posting silhouettes as a part of many of my photo sessions for several years now, and I still get SO many questions about them so I'm here to answer some of the most common questions today. Make sure to scroll all the way to the end of this post to see some of my FAVORITE silhouette photos from over the years! 😊
1.) Question: How do you photograph a silhouette? Answer (part 1): Most of my photos are taken by exposing for the skin tones while making sure that shadows aren't too dark and highlights aren't too bright. Silhouettes are created by exposing for the sky, which will underexpose the human subject in the photos creating the shadow look. Answer (part 2): It is actually difficult in many locations to find enough open sky to use behind my subjects, so many of these were taken during photo sessions at my house in Kiowa. We are out in the open on the Colorado plains which is perfect for big sky photos. Most of the time I end up laying on the ground and shooting up with a wide angle lens to achieve the look – this gives the photo more of the human subject and sky, and less of the ground. It is necessary to find an area without trees/buildings/houses/etc because too many objects creates a big shadowy mess, for lack of a better description. 😉
2.) Question: Can you create silhouettes at every photo session? Answer: The short answer is, no. I have tried many times, and silhouettes really don't work well outside of the golden hour. They work even better if you wait until after right after the sun dips behind the horizon because the light is even and that is usually when Colorado starts to show off with glowing orange or deep blue skies. If a silhouette photo is important to you, please let me know when you are scheduling your photo session and we will make sure to time it right!
3.) Question: Do silhouettes require a lot of post-production (editing) work? Answer: No. I work hard to nail my exposure while taking the photo, so when I go to edit the silhouettes I usually only need to add a little contrast and sharpening and they are good to go! I also enhance the colors sometimes if they need a little bit more "wow" factor. I usually use the same, or very similar, camera settings for all of my silhouettes. It will vary a little based on the brightness of the sky, but I usually start with ISO 100, F3.2, and a shutter speed of 400+. I will bump the shutter even higher if I am capturing movement, such as the ballet jump photo included below.
Now for the fun part – photos! 🤩