There are a few key elements that create a successful silhouette. I’ll say it loud and proud.
It is MORE than exposure. Yes, you meter for the sky, yes, that brings the blacks black, but there is so much more to it than that. I used to say, angle, separation and exposure.
But it is even more than that. You can nail the angle, shooting from down low, you can nail the exposure, and you can even get the separation, but if you aren’t telling a story, or conveying an emotion, you’re not getting it.
There needs to be a story. There needs to be an emotion. If the silhouette doesn’t make you feel, it falls flat. Just something to think about as you’re composing and editing your silhouettes.
Let’s explore that first element: Angle
Angle can create emotion and drama, especially when using clouds and sky with the foreground to create emotion.
Get low — and if you can’t get low enough, get your subjects up higher
The angle at which a silhouette is shot can make or break the image. A successful silhouette doesn’t cut people off in an unflattering way.
Sometimes I see silhouettes that start at the waist, or even start at the feet, but the background is so cluttered that the bottom of the subject gets lost in the junk before the sky.
When I’m shooting silhouettes I often am belly crawling on the ground. I’m on my hands and knees, trying to keep my camera off the sand, as I shoot at the beach a lot, or off the hard pavement, when around a view spot.
A standard tripod is never going to get me low enough to really capture the scene as I’d like to see it. But, since my silhouettes are often shot at dusk, It is great to have the stability and framing capability of a tripod, yet the height has always deterred me.
Platypod, the ideal solution
Yup. The Platypod Max is my tool of choice for low silhouettes. For the stunning big skies, you need a wide-angle lens that is mounted as low to the ground as you can get it, slightly angled up. Creates a BIG, BIG, BIG sky. I like big skies.
The Platypod Max secures my camera, and I’m able to get and keep my horizon line straight, which is super crucial so I don’t have to crop too much in post-production to get everything lined up perfect. Cropping isn’t fun when you’re trying to use, and make the biggest looking sky, so shooting straight is a HUGE advantage.
With the Platypod Max, I’m able to talk and interact with my subjects, and can either use a remote trigger (totally handy for silhouette selfies, or just push the button but from a much more comfortable angle), trusting that I’ve got everything lined up great.
I’m loving using the Platypod, It fits easily in my bag and is my go to stabilization device for all my low angle photography. It lets me get out and really play.