PHOTO PEAS CLASSROOM - SILHOUETTES (the real post)

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Posted 4/13/2010 by lollydohbird in General Photography
 

lollydohbird
PeaFixture

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Posted: 4/13/2010 2:14:11 AM
First of all let me apologize for the 'blank' posts with the same title. I was getting some error messages while trying to post this, and then a blank post would show up on the board. Hopefully we are in business now.

Once again, it's a pleasure & a privilege to be participating in the two peas classroom. Let me start off by saying that I love silhouettes! They are some of my ABSOLUTE favorites to shoot because they can be some of the most moving and dramatic shots. And, if you get your settings right, they require little to no processing after the fact depending on your vision. I did try to shrink down my sample images, but technology doesn't seem to be on my side tonight (as in IT'S NOT AT ALL COOPERATING WITH ME AT 1am), so I'm afraid you may have to scroll over to see some of them. I'm sorry. Some are old, some are new, but all the photos are in some form a silhouette.



So...the basic setup for a silhouette is to place your subject (the person or shape you want to black out in the foreground) in front of of a light source. If you are at all familiar with metering, than silhouettes can be a walk in the park. Learning to expose for the light source (i.e. the sky, window, or sunset) so the foreground (your subject) is underexposed is the basis of it, but I've noted a few tips to help walk you through the process if this is a new concept for you.

-Choose a strong subject, something well defined and recognizable with little clutter. This can be a person, an object, or anything, really. Your subject is the object/person that will be blacked out in your silhouette photo.

-Place your subject in front of a light source (i.e. a sun set). Set your exposure for the brightest part of your photo and not for the subject of the image. To meter accurately for this, point your camera at the light source, hold your shutter half way down and adjust your settings so that the meter line is in the center. This now means that your exposure is correctly set for the light source/brightest part of your photo, and for your silhouette.

-Turn your flash OFF! Do not illuminate your subject. Normally when shooting against back-lighting you may want to make use of your flash, but in this case since we want the foreground/subject to be dark, we need to ensure we do not use the flash.

-Get the light right. Once you have exposed for the sky/background, take a few shots to ensure your settings are such that you can capture the detail (i.e. for a sunset, make sure you can see light, color, clouds or whatever detail fills the sky).

-Set up/frame your image. Get the setting right, place your subject where you want them and look through your view finder to make sure the shot looks good and your subject is standing/placed where you want it. Try snapping one with your subject in the center, and one with your subject off to the side. Variety is good and it never hurts to have options to choose from.

-Make the shape clear and uncluttered. Ensure there aren't branches standing up directly behind your subject (if it's a person) or that people's heads aren't touching together to the point where you won't be able to tell WHAT your subject is.

-Take the shot. Don;t be afraid to take several at slightly different exposures to make sure you have the shot just how you want it.

-Process it if necessary. Usually with my silhouette shots, I use my Clarify Action and my Lab Color Pop at a mid-level opacity to give it the boost it needs. Then, if my subject isn't quite as blacked out as I want, I will use levels or the burn tool to darken the subject and give it the touch it needs. (I realize not all of these nature shots below are silhouettes but they were a collage in my photobucket, and I'm out of town without my hard drive, so low and behold - you get some extras. ).





So - I know that is pretty basic but I hope it sheds some light on achieving a good silhouette photo. Once again - thanks for tuning in to my post. Please feel free to throw out some questions, and I'd be happy to do my best to answer them. I know there are also other fabulous photographers on this board who will be able to chime in and provide some more good info on this topic.

Enjoy!

My Example Photo below:
As you can see from the photo taken by my friend, it's bright enough outside that I would have had no problem getting a properly exposed shot of my kids. But, by metering/exposing for the sky, which was my light source, the children were underexposed, therefore blacking them out.



Here is another example of some silhouettes, but these were done in front of a window in some clients homes. You can see that not all of the foreground is completely blacked out, I did this on purpose because not only did I want to show the clients shape in the silhouette to provide some emotion, but I wanted a tiny bit of detail in there just to personalize it for my client.




EssieP
StuckOnPeas

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Posted: 4/13/2010 2:29:20 AM
Awesome, thanks Heather! I your work and use your actions all the time.


Esther

My Blog
Canon 5D Mark II | Canon 40D | 16-35mm 2.8 | 50mm 1.4 | 85mm 1.8 | 24-70mm 2.8L | 70-200mm 2.8L IS | 100mm 2.8L macro | Canon Speedlight 580EX II | Gary Fong Collapsible Lightsphere | Photoshop CS4

My wish list: 15mm fishy


lbfritts
Can you hear me now???

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Posted: 4/13/2010 5:05:13 AM
Thanks Heather. Now to go and try this!



Meldan
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Posted: 4/13/2010 5:35:56 AM
Thanks Heather! Now all I have to do is wait for the sun to show up around here


Melissa
My Gear: Nikon D300; Nikon D70s; 50mm 1.8; 85mm 1.8; 18-70 kit lens; 70-300mm; 80-200mm 2.8; Tamron 17-50mm 2.8; SB800 speedlight

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bendedroad
Nicki

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Posted: 4/13/2010 6:15:28 AM
Thank you Heather - excellent instructions and illustrations.


Nicki

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The more I know, the more I realize how much I don't know!

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SJ Photography
PeaFixture

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Posted: 4/13/2010 7:06:11 AM
Thank you! I loved reading this and seeing your silhouette photos! They are one of my favorite types of shots to take, too!


Susan

Canon 5D, 24-70 mm 2.8, 85 mm 1.8, 50 mm 1.4, 100 mm 2.8

My Blog

SJ Photography
PeaFixture

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Posted: 4/13/2010 7:10:00 AM
Oh, I was going to ask about your settings. Aperture, ISO, etc. It seems like I am between f/8 - f/22 for all of my silhouette shots, but while reading what others do, I have found that their aperture is much more wide open than mine. I usually have my ISO on 400 for my silhouettes, too. Just wondering where your settings were for some of these. With f/22, I can get some of the star burst effect, too. And you're right...very little processing with these shots. Another reason I love them! Thanks again for sharing and posting your photos! They are beautiful!


Susan

Canon 5D, 24-70 mm 2.8, 85 mm 1.8, 50 mm 1.4, 100 mm 2.8

My Blog

buystoomuch
BucketHead

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Posted: 4/13/2010 8:06:36 AM
Thank you for this tute. I love it. Cant wait to practise!!



WVButterfly
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Posted: 4/13/2010 8:21:33 AM
I'm going to write down some notes and try my hand at silhouettes! Thank you so much for taking the time to put this together for us


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Carla
Sony A200 DSLR
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karene
Ancient Ancestor of Pea

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Posted: 4/13/2010 8:22:45 AM
Thanks Heather, this is something totally different than I usually do. It will be fun to just go out and play.

And, I just want to say, this whole Photo Peas Classroom thing, well, it kinda rocks!!



~ Karen


zayneegirl
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Posted: 4/13/2010 8:29:20 AM
Oh this is so perfectly timed!! I was JUST thinking about how I haven't learned how to do this yet... but now that we get to go to Hawaii next month, I want to LEARN!! And lo and behold, here is your classroom.

THANK YOU!!! I cannot WAIT to play!


Emily S.
Canon 50D | Canon 24-70L | 50mm 1.8 |Speedlight 580exII


DJPPhotos
PeaNut

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Posted: 4/13/2010 8:37:01 AM
Thank you for this, I can't wait to give it a try.



jekka88
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Posted: 4/13/2010 11:48:00 AM
Thanks for this lesson!!

Your images are amazing!


Jessica


traciegibbs
Thinking Hap-Pea Thoughts

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Posted: 4/13/2010 12:14:31 PM
What a great lesson, thanks Heather! That silhouette of M and N is one of my all time favorite shots of them Miss you my friend!


Tracie

I'm a Nikon Girl!
D300s
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craftyluv
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Posted: 4/13/2010 1:02:20 PM
Fabulous tutorial, Heather! Thanks so much for putting it together. It will be fun to try.


Blessings, Rebecca





My gear:
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squaek
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Posted: 4/13/2010 1:05:49 PM
I love silhouettes! Awesome shots, TFS!


Shauna P.G.
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TREZmom
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Posted: 4/13/2010 1:31:37 PM
This is terrific!!! I've been wanting to learn this technique for so long and had no idea how to do it.

Thanks so much for putting it together.

UtahMomX4
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Posted: 4/13/2010 2:48:04 PM
This is such a fantastic lesson, Heather! Thank you so much!!


~Jami

Life in Moments Photography Blog

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JeannetteK
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Posted: 4/13/2010 3:09:35 PM
Awesome! Thank you.


Jeannette


Kim M.
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Posted: 4/13/2010 3:12:09 PM
Great lesson, Heather! I'm such a silhouette freak...I try to get at least on from almost every single session! I love your take on these...great job!


Kim

myliesmom
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Posted: 4/13/2010 3:22:21 PM
Awesome Heather! Thanks. You know, I was just thinking last week about wanting to try out some silouette shots. Now I am going to!! Good to see you around here.


~Steph~

Nikon D90 | Nikon 85 mm f/1.8 | Nikon 50 mm f/1.8 | Nikon 35 mm f/1.8 | Tokina 12-24mm f/4 | Tamron 90 mm f/2.8 macro | SB-600 | PSE7 | JoTote!

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beccaburke
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Posted: 4/13/2010 4:40:22 PM
Heather, thank you! Great tips for us!


Becca

What's in my JoTote:
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Sony 85 f/1.4
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Sony 55-200 f/4
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Minolta 70-210 f/4.5
Minolta 35-70 f/3.5
Minolta 2000xi Flash and Minolta 2800af Flash

What's on my computer:
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*Shanah*
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Posted: 4/13/2010 4:43:05 PM
Amazing work...tyou for helping explain the process!

MomTo3DMD
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Posted: 4/13/2010 6:38:45 PM
Thanks Heather! I've always loved these Cannon Beach silhouettes!


~Mari


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Stacey Anna
StuckOnPeas

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Posted: 4/13/2010 7:16:28 PM
Thank you Heather! You are so sweet!
Stacey



bassfan
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Posted: 4/13/2010 7:26:22 PM
Thanks so much! Can't wait to try it out.

bassfan
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Posted: 4/13/2010 7:26:22 PM
Thanks so much! Can't wait to try it out.

DaRyZe
StuckOnPeas

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Posted: 4/13/2010 7:35:59 PM
Awesome post and your examples are beautiful! I want to try with my studio set up now. Silhouette's are some of my faavorites!


Suzy

Click here to view my blog

In my bag ~
Nikon D700
Nikon D300
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Nikon 35 mm 1.8
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On my Computer~
Adobe Photo shop CS
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Studio ~
Profoto studio kit (two 600 watt strobes)





hampton32
PeaFixture

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Posted: 4/13/2010 7:45:44 PM
Thank you so much, Heather! I have always LOVED your silhouette shots!!!


~Carolyn

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Mrs. U
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Posted: 4/13/2010 11:10:09 PM
Thank you SO much for this, Heather!! I've attempted (and failed) silhouettes before and now I know why!! I metered off the subject and NOT the lightsource!! Yep, I just had a "duh" moment!!

Thank you!!

Yes, I am practicing tomorrow! YAY!

His,
Shari

funnygal
PeaNut

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Posted: 4/14/2010 1:08:02 PM
Oh my word, your photos are gorgeous!! Thank you so much for a fabulous lesson, I can't wait to practice!


Rachel

Canon 50d!/tamron 28-75/55-200/50mm 1.8

mrstown04
100 cans of Peas on the Wall...

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Posted: 4/15/2010 3:23:36 PM
thank you so much heather! I have been waiting for this! I can't wait to read it all & then go try it out! You rock!


Ashley

Canon 20D|Canon 50mm 1.4, Canon 17-40mm 4.0L, Canon 75-300mm 4.0|Speedlite 430EX
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Sugarmommy
PeaAddict

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Posted: 4/16/2010 12:48:38 PM
Hi, Thanks for a great lesson and your beautiful photo's!
I've been wanting to try this for a very long time. I am going to try and do this with my kids this weekend and hopefully I can post something for CC.



Amar
CC and plays always welcome and much appreciated!
Cannon Rebel XT ~ 17-55mm 2.8 ~ 50mm 1.8
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nursebeth
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Posted: 4/16/2010 6:53:38 PM
This is a great lesson and I am looking forward to trying it out!


Beth

My Blog: Better Than Real Life


My gear:
Canon 7D ~ Speedlite 430EX ~ CS5
Canon 50mm f1.8 ~ Canon 100mm f2.8 Macro ~ Tamron 28-75mm f2.8
Canon 75-300mm f4-5.6 ~ Sigma 10-20mm f4-5.6

mthr21
BucketHead

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Posted: 4/16/2010 9:31:41 PM
Have never even tried silhouettes before. This motivates me to give it a try.

Thank you, Heather.

Jamie S.

jamadophotography
PeaWee

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Posted: 10/8/2012 12:39:53 AM
Great advise! Thanks!


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