Saturday, February 15, 2014

-Learning- "Photographing Silhouettes"

Photographing Silhouettes
A silhouette is an image with a darker subject against the light or bright background. Silhouettes have been very popular among the art lovers since long. If clicked properly, Silhouettes attract the viewers very intensively. A silhouette can portray a whole story. With a few points in mind we can photograph such images exclusivity.

1. Strong Subject: Our subject should be powerful. If we aim at a weak subject, our image will not leave impact on viewers’ mind. We should try to choose the subject with interesting shapes and curves. When our subjects are human beings, we have to aim at shooting their profiles in order to capture their feelings and expressions.

2. Story Telling Value: The image should convey some story. A flat image with no message will not be appreciated. 

3. Concentration on Limited Subjects: We have to avoid so many subjects in our image. A mix of various subjects often destroys the image. On the other hand aiming at limited subjects strengthens the photograph. 

4. Proper Light and Situation: The best situation to photograph a silhouette is that of early morning or late evening when the sun/bright sky is behind the subject. Furthermore, shooting the silhouette against the sky with miraculous formations of cloud results into amazing images. While shooting indoor we can place the subject against a door, a window or an arch which is allowing the bright light coming inside from the back. Here a window or an arch works as a good frame.

5. Exposure: Correct exposure plays very important role. We should give exposure according to the brighter background and not according to the subject. This will darken the subject dramatically turning the picture into fantastic piece of art.

6. Focusing: Since a silhouette is the presentation of a subject in unique way, we have to focus the main subject prominently. Not only this, the background also plays important role. In order to get well focused background we have to set the aperture at small size. i.e., at f 22, f 16, f 11 etc.

7. Aesthetic Presentation: A flat silhouette photograph has no meaning. We should always aim at the image that has the potency to attract one at first sight. Here our aesthetic sense works a lot. Some have this sense as a gift of God, while some others develop it with their constant efforts in the field of art and by seeing masterpieces of other artists. An aesthetically perfect image is that which gives a feel of pleasure and peace at first sight.

(Images Courtesy: Mr. Rajeev Kashyap, Mr. Abhijit Dharmadhikari, Mr. Bherulal M Kanoja, Mr. Atul Choubey and Mr. Devendra Sharma)

--Dr. Pankaj Sharma



  1. hi,

    Lovely write up ! ... very informative and well illustrated ! ... importantly, practical and useful !

    Dr Sanjeev Shevade

  2. I am very much delighted to see your silhouettes,congrates. Thanks for your
    sending the same to me. Vithal Goradia.

  3. Good. We learn from your articles. Thanks Pankaj ji.
    A.P.Laitu, Dubai

  4. Thanks for this important writeup Dear Pankaj Sir.
    Seema Singh

  5. hindi me bhi ho to achha rahega - Nikhil Pilojpara
    Rajkot (Gujarat)

  6. Nice write-up, Pankaj ji! Very informative!
    Thanks for introducing my image!

  7. All are beautiful silhouettes...
    Thanks for sharing...
    Anagha Sangelkar-Mumbai

  8. Dear Dr Pankaj,
    Nice topic you choose for the benefit of
    your blog readers, specially the beginners, budding photo-pals.
    indeed it's my favorite subject too.
    Virendra Singh