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Hi I'm Chris Davis for About.com. Photographing silhouettes is a great way to simplify an image while still capturing your viewers attention. Here's how to shoot a silhouette.

Using Light in Photography

Creating a silhouette is fairly easy to accomplish. Basically you want to position your subject in front of a light source and set your cameras exposure to the brightest part of the photograph. The end result will have your subject blackened out leaving an outline against the light source. Although the process is straight forward, to get an effective silhouette, you will need to select a subject with a recognizable shape. Furthermore, the subject needs to be interesting as a two dimensional shape, because you will be eliminating the details within the outline.

Natural Light for Silhouettes

One of the best natural backgrounds is a bright sky. If it happens to be sunrise or sunset you will get additional interesting colors that will elevate the effect. However, a window or door can also provide the needed back light. Start by framing your shot, placing your subject in front of the bright background.

Before you go any further turn off the flash. Remember we don't want to light the subject. Point your camera predominately at the light source and press your shutter button slightly. This will allow you to meter for the brightly lit background. Using the shutter speed and aperture readings from this test meter place the camera in manual mode. This will give you a starting point. You may find after a few test shots that you may want to alter the settings. A general rule of thumb is that you will use a fast shutter speed, however, if you want to increase your depth of field than you will want to work with your aperture setting. A small aperture will increase the depth of field, which will give you a sharper foreground and background. But to achieve this effect, you will most likely have a longer exposure time which will require the use of a tripod to eliminate camera shake.

Focus is Essential for Silhouettes

There are a few additional things to consider as well. Take time to get the focus right. A clean sharp outline will accentuate the silhouette effect. If you have more than one shape in your frame, try to keep them separated. Overlapping doesn't work in a silhouette. Also, when photographing people you may want to use profiles. They provide a more recognizable outline than if the subject is facing the camera.

Once you have captured your silhouette, try adding just a little light back onto your subject. It often yields some very interesting photographs.

To learn more check us out on the web at About.com. Thanks for watching.
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