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19 examples of silhouette photography

Shooting silhouettes is a sure-fire way to add visual interest and atmosphere to your images. We take a look at some of the best silhouette images on Photocrowd

'There's a Storm Coming' by Chris Evans, Nikon D800, 38mm, 1/50sec at f/14, ISO 400

Silhouettes are a great method for bringing dramatic impact to your images, whether they’re wildlife, street or documentary photography. Silhouettes are particularly good to create around this time of year when the low light of winter will give you excellent conditions in which to work.

It’s important to ensure the subject you intend to render as a silhouette has a distinctive shape that will possess a recognisable outline. Popular subjects to capture in images like this include, stags, cyclists, birds and, as you’ll see in the examples below, figures moving through the streets. All these subjects are instantly familiar to your audience.

To put it simply, you create a silhouette by setting your camera to manual, and underexposing your main subject when it is positioned in front of a bright light source. By exposing for the background light source, not the main subject, the subject will be rendered as a solid block of shadow.

If you have any unwanted details in your silhouetted subject then reduce the exposure further. However, if you find this reduces the exposure too much in other areas of your image then you can always remove the unwanted details in post-processing using the burn tool.

One of the key issues that photographers new to this technique can face is how to accurately focus. You usually want both the silhouetted subject and the background of the image to be sharp. Your best option is to set your lens to manual focus and set your aperture to around f/11, which will give good depth of field and should give some leeway for focusing. Remember also to keep your ISO as low as possible (note that all of the images below have ISOs of between 100 and 800). Noise is particularly noticeable in shadow areas and can be very difficult or impossible to fix in post.

'Departures' by Graeme Heckels, Leica Q, 28mm, 1/1000sec at f/5.6, ISO 400

'Modern Take' by Mark Cornick, Canon EOS 6D, 17-40mm, 1/100sec at f/5, ISO 1000

'Street Games' by Agnieszka Maruszczyk, Nikon D750, 24-70mm, 1/250sec at f/10, ISO 250

'A Peaceful Morning at the Lake' by Sandi Bertoncelj, Canon EOS 5D Mark III, 16-35mm, 1/2500sec at f/5.6, ISO 100

'Gathering' by Xavier Berlioux, Nikon D300S, 11-16mm, 1/320sec at f/5, ISO 200

'Woodland Prince' by Doug Richardson, Nikon D800E, 200mm, 1/400sec at f/11, ISO 100

'Alone in the Dark' by Peter Orban, Canon EOS 6D, 24-70mm, 90secs at f/8, ISO 800

'A Bird on Barbed Wire' by KrystyanaK, Canon EOS 70D, 75-300mm, 1/400ec at f/7.1, ISO 160

'We Are the Shadows of the People We Should Be' by SixByFour, Sony DSC-RX100M4, 24-70mm, 1/1600sec at f/5.6, ISO 125

'The Old and the New' by Lee Stoneman, exposure unknown

'Strangers in the Night' by Jevgenijs Scolokovs, Canon EOS 5D, 135mm, 3/10sec at f/7.1, ISO 400

'Snowboarder's Silhouette' by Katja Pokorn, Canon EOS 7D, 17-40mm, 1/1250sec at f/7.1, ISO 200

'Lights and Shadows on the Streets of Havana' by Agnieszka Maruszczyk, Nikon D750, 24-70mm, 1/160sec at f/10, ISO 100

'In the Mist' by Kavin Noon, Canon EOS 6D, 24-105mm, 1/500sec at f/8, ISO 100

'Fragile City' by Marco Cruz, exposure unknown

'Alone' by Stefan Nielsan, Canon EOS 5D, 400mm, 1/320sec at f/16, ISO 200

'The Ibex and Mont Blanc' by Nick Whimster, exposure unknown

'Starling Murmuration' by Xander Ettling, Canon EOS 5D Mark II, 50mm, 1/500sec at f/4, ISO 640

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