Silhouette - tyneholm
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Assignment S21

From the earliest days, silhouettes have featured in street photography, either as a strong, graphic element in a wider shot, or a primary subject. For this assignment, create a set of six striking silhouettes by following these simple steps: 

  1. Find the right background. Ideally it will be uncluttered, with strong backlighting. 
  2. Expose for the highlights. With strong backlighting this often means underexposing by two or three stops. Take some test shots to get it right.
  3. Use manual focus, as autofocus can find these lighting situations difficult to deal with. Set this while you fine tune your exposure settings. 
  4. Choose your subject. Look for strong outlines and dominant forms big hats, umbrellas, flowing coats, and so on . 
  5. In post-production, ensure your blacks are BLACK! 

View the images


  • If you’re shooting in Aperture Priority mode, use exposure compensation to reduce the exposure by two or three stops. This will ensure you expose for the backlighting and throw your subject into silhouette.
  • If there is more than one person in the shot, ensure separation between them so they don’t become a meaningless black ”blob:’
  • Timing is important: if your subject is walking, the image will be more appealing if their legs are apart, mid-stride.

Field Notes

  • Find the right background and then wait! It might take an hour or more for the right person or object to come into the frame, but it’s worth it.
  • Not every scene will make a good silhouette image: you need to find the right subject and the right background. Try setting your LCD screen or viewfinder to give you a monochrome view, as this can help you evaluate the potential more effectively. 
  • It’s not necessarily a bad thing if the background is a little cluttered-just make sure it complements the composition and always frame your subject against a bright area.