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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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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