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Thread: How do I set up a silhouette shot?

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    How do I set up a silhouette shot?

    I've been thinking about what to do for a selfie. Being that I have a nicely growing bump, I like the idea of a full-length silhouette.
    Any tips on how to set this up? Would outside at sunset work? Would I need the sun directly behind me? (Possibly causing a bit of an Angel glow , could be good or bad???)
    If inside with no studio gear, would it be best to use lamps?
    Any other advice, particularly on camera settings?

    Thanks!
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    Arch-Σigmoid Ausphotography Regular ameerat42's Avatar
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    A couple of times, trees in sunset and the like, or rock overhangs.
    Both methods would be OK. Camera settings. Manual for a start, or it will try to "correct" the exposure.

    Meter the illuminated background, then make sure that you a few stops, say, at least 3 f-stops under that. No more than about 5.
    It's a case of try a few first then see, Don't forget MANUAL.
    Am.
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    Administrator ricktas's Avatar
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    As Am says, meter for the brighest part of the scene and then all the dark bit will appear dark. Spot metering is best. You can use sunset, lamps, lights, a window early or late, that has the bright sun shining in through it..
    "It is one thing to make a picture of what a person looks like, it is another thing to make a portrait of who they are" - Paul Caponigro

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    Arch-Σigmoid Ausphotography Regular ameerat42's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ameerat42 View Post
    ...Meter the illuminated background, then make sure that you a few stops, say, at least 3 f-stops under that. No more than about 5.
    It's a case of try a few first then see, Don't forget MANUAL...
    I must have been under the weather!!! (It was quite wrm here today.)

    What I meant was, "...then make sure that you underexpose a few shots..."
    Obviously I didn't give that word enough exposure. I hope you got the drift.
    Srry, Am.

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    Thanks for the advice, but I'm going to sound dumb here - maybe you can just point me in the direction of where to look in the library... but was is 'meter' in the context you're using it?

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    Ausphotography Regular bobt's Avatar
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    If you have a nice blank wall that would do ... and for another approach entirely you might like to use a shadow rather than a silhouette. You could stand between the light and the wall and photograph the wall shadow.

    I'm looking at silhouettes too because we have a comp of that title later in the year at our club. The advice about exposing for the bright spot is good.

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    Arch-Σigmoid Ausphotography Regular ameerat42's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ang View Post
    Thanks for the advice, but I'm going to sound dumb here - maybe you can just point me in the direction of where to look in the library... but was is 'meter' in the context you're using it?
    1stly: I couldn't find a reference in the Library, if you Google "sihouette photography" you'll get oodles. Maybe the Library is waiting for some of your results.

    Now, "meter" means to take an exposure reading of the scene with the camera's in-built light-meter, in this case, of the illuminated background for your silhouette. Set your camera to manual, and if it says something like 1/200 sec at f/11 and ISO100 (or any such numbers), then that's what it has metered the (background) scene at.

    When you place your silhouette subject in front of this background, make sure that not too much light falls on it, that is, that it meters at way less than for the background. As said above, it should be about 3 stops less.

    Example: given the metered background of:
    1/200 sec, f/11, ISO100,
    then the silhouette subject should read about:
    1/25 sec, f/11, ISO100, or
    1/200 sec, f/4, ISO100.

    OF COURSE, that would be only for checking that it will appear dark enough. You would then take the shot according to the background metering. You certainly would focus on the (outline of) the silhouetted subject.

    I think you should try a few with some objects first, then yourself.
    Am.
    Last edited by ameerat42; 04-01-2012 at 8:06am.

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    As above, except if u get an exposure reading on a very bright background the meter will assume its mid gray and under expose. You need the readings to be 3 stops apart but the background needs to be bright.

    A nice trick is to stand in the bright background and take an exposure reading of your hand. Now move into the shaded area and take another reading. As long as the difference is 3 full stops the shot will work. Set the camera to the reading one taken of your hand in the light and perhaps bracket 1 stop over & under.

    Good luck

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