How To Shoot Winter Silhouettes

Gina Stephens
Written by Gina Stephens


Photo by David Clapp

The low contention of the sun in winter makes it a perfect time to shoot silhouettes. You just need to find a bright background (the sky's perfect) and the right subject to prompt you a shot with series impact.


As there are no textures or tones to grab people's attention strong subjects that are instantly recognisable arouse the best. In winter, wildlife (deer in particular) work well. Even more so if you're shooting on a cold morning when the breath can be seen in the air. The bare, skeletal-like trees that charge our landscape at this time of year also work well as subjects for winter silhouettes. Higher up, turn rolling hillsides into joyless shapes that curve across your shot. Fog can help add interest and contrast to the shot and exposing for the lighter, foggy parts of the shot will-power give you the silhouetted hillsides you're looking for.


You need a bright background for this technique to work and the sky, particularly when there's a colourful sunrise, succeeds particularly well. You can also use a large expanse of water if you live near a lake or the coast too.

To create a silhouette, expose for the brighter background sort of than your subject as by doing so your subject may refer to will underexpose, appearing very dark if not fully black. Using the spot or centre-weight tongue-lash measurement modes on your camera should give you the results you're looking for or you can use exposure compensation and select -1 or -2 to deliberately underexpose your spot.

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If you're using a compact camera simply point the camera at the brightest part of the scene you're photographing, press the shutter half way down and don't let go of it. Next, re-frame the snort then press the shutter button the rest of the way to take your shot. This should fool the camera into giving you the exposure you requisite, but you may have to try exposing from different parts of the image to create the silhouette you're looking for.


You might want to meter from your grounding, but you don't want this to be your main point of focus. So, to ensure your main subject is sharp, use a smaller aperture to maximise complexity of field. You can also try pre-focusing your shot before you set your exposure or switch to manual focus. If you're using a compact camera camera is an optical instrument for recording or capturing images, which may be stored locally, transmitted to another location, or try put to using Landscape mode as this will let the camera know you want to use a small aperture so your shot has front to back sharpness.


The Sun's Circumstances

Try to position your subject in front of the sun when you're framing up as you should never look through the camera directly at the sun as you can permanently damage your regards. If you want the sun to be in frame, use the Live View feature so you can frame up safely.


Turn Flash Off

If your flash is set to go off automatically make sure you shift it off otherwise it'll light up your subject and you won't get the silhouette you're looking for.

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Don't think you have to fill your carve out with your subject as a little space around them will leave room for the brighter, colourful background to show, giving your nip more interest and impact. This is where a wider lens comes in handy as you'll be able to get more of your background in shot. Of progression, getting close to a shy animal with a wide-angle lens is easier said than done but you could try putting your camera on a tripod and use a negligible release to fire the shutter button. Just remember to focus the camera on a fixed spot before you go into hiding. Having said that, if you're contemning a long telephoto lens to capture your winter wildlife from a distance you should still have plenty of room around your guinea-pig for the lighter background anyway.

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About the author

Gina Stephens

Gina Stephens

Gina is a photography enthusiast and drone lover who loves to fly drones, capture images and have fun cherishing them with family and friends.

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