How to make a silhouette photo

Summertime the skies here in Sweden are often fantastic – at sunset with purple, pink, orange, or when a storm is closing in and beautiful clouds are dark and every shade of grey imaginable. Even a bright blue summer day, with some fluffy clouds making a pattern across the sky.

I love to photograph the sky. And what I love even more, is when there is a silhouette of a dog in the photo.

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Your camera is made to give you correctly exposed photos. A silhouette photo is not “correct”, and that means you will have to tell the camera to underexpose the photo. Often at least two full steps, maybe more.

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Also important is that the form that is the silhouette is easy to read. A dog with hanging ears from the front – not so good. Same dog in profile – much better! You need to immediately see that the silhouette is a dog.

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You can even make a silhouette photo during the day, all you need to do is underexpose the photo enough. I usually “help” the photo along in Lightroom, use the “dehaze” slider to brighten the colours, increase contrast, and paint in black where I need to.

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Sometimes it’s more beautiful to make an “almost-silhouette”, where you can still see some colours and details. Especially if the sky is an even colour without clouds.

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To summon up:

  • Underexpose as much as you need to
  • Choose “exciting” skies with many colours and some clouds
  • Make sure the dog makes a silhouette that is easy to read
  • Try the dehaze-slider to make the colours “pop” even more
  • Sometimes it’s better to leave some colour and detail in the dog.

Get out there and try! Good luck!

 

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