How to Photograph Silhouette Portraits in the Middle of the Day

Silhouette portraits are always fun to experiment with, and it’s easy to assume that we are limited to sunrise and sunset for capturing this type of image. With knowledge of camera exposure settings and a single off-camera flash, this style of portrait can be produced at any time of day or night.

In this video, Gavin Hoey enthusiastically takes us through another one of his portrait tutorials. He demonstrates how to use the exposure compensation to underexpose an image to create a silhouette-style portrait. Because the sun is high during the middle of the day, backlight can instead be produced using an off-camera flash. Hoey shows how to use smoke to effectively create a wall of backlight. Because the pattern of the smoke is constantly changing, he recommends directing your model to stay very still while you capture a series of images, which can afterwards be blended together in Photoshop.

Hoey concludes his tutorial by demonstrating how to blend a stack of images together, and finishes his smokey silhouette by adding a bit of haze. I’m a huge fan of these tutorials, since they start out simple and get a bit more complex, so that each one offers useful advice for beginner and experienced photographers alike.

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2 Comments

Curt Alexander's picture

Would a negative 3 EV have been an appropriate step in creating that silhouette? And, how much are smoke machines?

Aram Hovsepian's picture

Love those silhouettes. Great tutorial. A bit much of photoshopping in the end for my taste though.

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