Silhouettes are one photo that everybody seems to like. It is like a mystery photograph. It seems easy to take: just take a picture of the sunset, and have someone enter the picture, and they will be dark, while the sunset stays beautiful.
Here are some other tips on how to make them even better:
HOW TO PHOTOGRAPH SILHOUETTES:
Before heading out to shoot silhouettes, make sure you have a camera that lets you adjust the exposure. In other words, you should be able to brighten and darken the photo at will.
(All modern DSLRs and mirrorless cameras have this functionality and so do most smartphones.)
1- CHOOSE A STRONG SUBJECT:
Make sure that the subject in your silhouette is something that people will recognize. A person, a tree, a child, your car, whatever, but, make sure it’s recognizable. Don’t put something in there so small that only you know what it is.
2- TURN OFF YOUR FLASH
Whether you are using a camera or a cell phone, take your camera off auto-flash mode. To create the effect you want, you don’t want any light on the front subject.
3- GET YOUR LIGHT RIGHT
When it comes to lighting your subject, you’ll need to throw out a lot of what you’ve learned about normal photography and think a little backward.
Instead of lighting the front of your subject, you need to ensure that there is more light shining from the background than the foreground of your shot.
4- FRAME YOUR IMAGE
Most people like their subject right in front of the main light. There are exceptions of course. Look at the beautiful image of the wedding couple above. That is not in front of the sun, but off to the side. This creates a beautiful effect as well. Here is one where the subject is right in front of the main light:
5- TRY USING YOUR CAMERA IN AUTO MODE
With today’s cameras and cell phones, it seems the auto mode knows that this is a sunset, or bright light in the background. So, automatic may work for you. Give it a try and see if that makes things easier for you:
6- SILHOUETTES CAN BE CREATED WITH OTHER FORMS OF LIGHT
The usual silhouette is usually done with the sun as the background light. But, you can create silhouettes with artificial lighting. As long as the light you use is the background, and facing your subject. This light will usually need to be fairly strong too, and make sure, also, that there is no foreground light on the main subject.
A wonderful type of photography. Now you know all the rules, go ahead and try these steps. And if you want to share any of your photos, check this out:
With our cameras today, very little attention is focused on lighting. Our cameras have a built-in “white-balance” system in it so that the colors come out right, even if the lighting is awful. So, why would I do this blog with the focus on different colors that light produces? Because you may run into situations, where the camera you own, even though it is supposed to balance everything to white, doesn’t do it.
In the photo above, I picked that because of the 2 different types of lighting in this photo. Let’s go over it, and I’ll explain more of the types of lighting:
The photo above is showing one of the most beautiful chapels in the world. The incandescent lighting is doing it’s job by putting out it’s natural color, which is kind of an orange, or gold color light. And the daylight coming through the stained glass windows is giving a beautiful rendition of the colors used in that stained glass. In fact, the windows in this photo, are the most accurate color.
This photo was probably done with a camera that had the automatic white balance. But, how is it supposed to fix all that? If it made the chapel area in the correct color, the stained glass windows would not be a vert pretty color. It is hard for any camera to adjust the white balance for any multiple colors of lighting.
There is only one thing in the world that can fix all the different types of lighting, and that is the human eye.
The one device that can give you the best color correction, to make things look normal, is the human eye.
Last winter, I was taking a walk in the park, and it was foggy. And this is the photo I took in the fog:
Now, the question is with some photos, including the one above, is: does this photo look great with this color cast, or would it look better with it color corrected in photoshop or Lightroom?
UNDERSTANDING THE “KELVIN” RATING SYSTEM:
The Kelvin color temperature scale is used to describe the way various light temperatures appear visually. It is measured in degrees on a Kelvin scale (K) and typically ranges from 2700 – 5000 degrees Kelvin.
Virtually all light bulbs or lighting fixtures that come with bulbs included will reference on the package which Kelvin Color temperature is associated with the item you are purchasing. Having a complete understanding of what these temperature choices mean and how they will look in your home will help you to make the best lighting choices.
Almost all light globes, or any light source will show on the package what the Kelvin rating is for the light produced. Take a look next time you buy a light globe.
I am one that likes my light in my house to be the most normal color possible. When I go buy a light globe then, they will either show on the package that it is a daylight bulb, or they may call it “cool white”. Either one will work, and won’t give you the warm color to your home. There are people who think that the “warm white” is better on your eyes. I don’t know how white can be warm. I still want my art work, my photos that hang on the wall to have the proper color in the room so they look right.
THE KELVIN SCALE:
This is a great scale that tells you exactly what color light globes are in their rating as compared to daylight. Daylight is the perfect light, and it produces the most perfect natural color. We know, however, that there is a thing called the “Golden Hour” which is the 1 hour after sunrise, and the one hour before sunset, and the daylight color is no longer accurate. But, it sure gives a nice warm color to everything lit up by the Golden hour.
Let’s look at the Kelvin rating of our light sources:
Daylight is “white light”, and it is what the light balance in your camera is calibrated to. So, this is the most perfect light we use in photography
Standard Warm White light bulbs are rated at 3200K. Looking at the Kelvin Scale above, you can see that it is definitely a warm yellow color.
Cool White light bulbs are not perfectly rated like daylight, but close. They are rated at 4500K to 5000k. So, you can see they are very close to the color of daylight (and that is the light I like to put in my home).
Fluorescent light is rated at: Warm white fluorescent bulbs range from 3000k to 3500k. Cool white range from 4100k to 4200k. Most people buy the Cool White bulbs. They look the most correct to our eyes, but, the cameras, and especially film, it brings out some kind of weird green color. I guess green is closer to daylight than the warm white.
Street lights: The International Dark Sky Association (I didn’t know there was such a group), recommends that street lights be rated at 2200K. Now you can see why my fog pictures, untouched, are so warm and yellow. They are not even on the Kelvin Scale listed above.
Flash on cameras, and cell phones: 5000K to 6500K. Nice for perfect flash photos.
I hope that the next time you look at a light globe, you can see the actual color of the bulb. And then realize that it is not a color at all like daylight. It doesn’t matter what light bulb you choose, notice that it has a certain color cast and it can affect your overall photo.
Without vision, the photographer perishes
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This article today was written by: Lanny Cottrell – 123photogo
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This “ART OF SEEING” series done by Ken Lee, has made me think of all the things we should all learn in photography, to make us a better photographer. Without light, there would be no picture. Hate to say it, but, this is an important subject.
Let’s take a look at the different types of light so we can all understand how to use them:
Diffused light that which is not harsh and direct, it has been softened in some way. A great example is when you are outside and the sun is shining, with no clouds in the sky. The light is harsh and you will notice that there will be a lot shadows falling on or around your subject. But, if clouds are in the sky, and they block out some of that harsh sunlight, the light then becomes diffused.
You can use diffused lighting to your advantage in a great way. If you are shooting portraits on an overcast (diffused) day, you are pretty much shooting with nature’s own softbox. You will be able to work with your subject easier, and have different angles to shoot from, because you won’t be limited by the harsh lines and shadows that undiffused light can create. Overcast (diffused) lighting is preferred by many photographers, as it is a flat and even light. If it were a particularly sunny and bright day, shooting in the shade would also offer you some diffused lighting.
This particular image shows the use of diffused lighting, using the shade of the building to soften the light, while also reflecting light shades back to the subject.
Backlighting is where you are illuminating your subject from the back, as opposed to from the front, or the side. Working with backlight you can silhouette your subject, or give them a glow. To Silhouette your subject, you would meter for the sky and to create a glow around your subject, you would meter for the subject itself. You need to place your subject in front of your preferred light source and allow that light to illuminate your subject. If you are using the sun as your light source, different times of the day will give you different types of backlighting. The lower the sun falls, the softer the light will feel. You may find that sometimes you will have to move yourself into a position where your camera can autofocus or switch to full manual, as the light can be so strong that your focusing point struggles to find what it is you want to focus on.
Reflected light can be found everywhere, on most surfaces. Reflected light is literally the light that is reflected from a particular surface or material. If you were to shoot a portrait next to a white building, the light hitting the building would be reflected on to your subject, creating a soft light. If you were in the middle of the red Moroccan Atlas Mountains and you were to shoot a portrait, there would be a softer red reflection coming onto your subject from the ground. Or, if you were doing a portrait session outside and you wanted to bounce some additional light into your subject’s face, you could use an actual reflector. They normally come in two colors; one side gold, and one side white.
Reflected light tends to be quite soft and takes on the color of the surface/material that it is being bounced off.
The reflector was being used with the gold side to reflect a warm glow onto the subject’s face.
I had some help writing this article. Thanks to: Natasha Cadman / from Digital photography school for her great knowledge on this subject.
Tomorrow’s blog: Different colors of light, and how to work with them.
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Lighting in landscapes is a bit more complicated, and in this blog, I hope to clear up all the details of the different types of lighting, and how we can use the different types of lighting to help our landscape photos.
LIGHTING QUALITY AND DIRECTION
Landscape photographers talk about two essential lighting characteristics: the quality and the direction.
Lighting quality refers to the hardness or softness of the light, where soft light produces limited shadows and saturated colors, while hard light adds lots of contrast and heavy shadows.
And lighting direction refers to the direction at which the light strikes your subject. For instance, noontime sunlight hits the subject from above, evening sunlight hits the subject from the side, etc.
Generally, lighting quality is the bigger deal here. Because while it’s possible to experiment with different directions for beautiful results, if you fail to understand lighting quality, you’ll capture consistently mediocre (or just bad) photos.
At the same time, you should understand how to work with different lighting directions – it’s how you can add depth and dimension to your photos, for one – which is why I dedicate several sections to the topic.
Reflected light, also called bounced or diffused light, occurs when direct sunlight reflects off an adjacent surface. It can make for stunning photos, thanks to its soft, even, beautiful effect.
The canyons in the Southwest are perfect for this type of light, as the sun beams against the rocks and is reflected all around, creating a gorgeous warm glow:
To work with reflected light, you’ll generally need a bright surface such as pale rock walls, a white beach, etc. – otherwise, you’ll fail to get a nice reflection effect. You’ll also need bright sun, ideally toward the middle of the day.
Light on overcast and foggy days is soft, subdued, and bluish. Shadows are negligible, and light directionality essentially disappears.
While cloudy light can work great for landscape photos, thanks to the flattering, soft effect and lack of harsh shadows, you need to be careful; a cloudy sky tends to look boring, so do what you can to block it out with trees, mountains, and other landscape elements.
Cloudy days are also great for colorful landscape scenes, such as fields of flowers. The soft light evenly illuminates your subject and gives colors a subtle, saturated glow.
Backlight refers to any light that comes from behind your subject, like this:
Note that you can have partial back-lighting, when the sun comes from roughly behind the subject, and you can have total back-lighting, when the sun beams out from directly behind the subject.
Back-lighting is a landscape photography favorite, especially when the sun is just above the horizon. Why? Back-lighting is dramatic, whether it’s combined with HDR effects (such as in the image above), or whether you use it to capture stunning silhouettes.
One tip: Pay careful attention to the position of the sun in your frame. You generally want to partially block the sun with a solid edge; that way, you can capture a beautiful sun-star. Alternatively, you can keep the sun out of the frame or position it behind a solid object, like a tree or a rock, to prevent a blown-out sky.
Direct light is strong, harsh, and very unforgiving; you can generally find it a few hours after sunrise to a few hours before sunset, though as the sun moves higher in the sky (i.e., closer to noon), the light becomes more direct and even less flattering.
Because direct light produces such a harsh effect, some landscape photographers avoid it completely.
MORNING AND EVENING LIGHT (GOLDEN HOURS):
For most good landscape photographers, this is their favorite time to photograph. The side-lighting from the sun creates such a dramatic effect, and then the warm glow that is created when the sun is at that angle, it just makes for beautiful photos.
Open shade can be classified into two type of shade:
1- Shade caused by a lot of trees, buildings, etc. to create a natural shade. Some lighting may be inserted in this type of photo:
2- A cloudy day, and everything is under the shade of clouds. May not have any shadows because of this:
HUMAN MADE LIGHT:
Although, this is a landscape photo, the element of “human-made” lighting is inserted. This is totally a great photo, and the combination of the “man-made” lighting mixed with the ambient light, is a remarkable photo.
Now you have had the opportunity to study all the different types of lighting, in landscapes, now, when you go out to take landscape photos, study the light, and see how you can work the light to your advantage.
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“Bokeh”! What is this new word? Take a look at the photo above, and notice all the little round lighted circles behind the subject. Those circles are “Bokeh”, and have become popular in photos lately because they make the subject stand out from the background in a very beautiful way.
Taken from a Japanese word for “blur,” bokeh has become a photography jargon used to describe how a lens renders a background that’s out of focus. As I was looking for a great photo showing Bokeh, I was surprised how many people just love Bokeh, without any foreground subject. Just like this:
To me, a photo like this is not something I would hang up on the wall, but, might be used as a background to something else I want to create. However, if you search for Bokeh, on Google, you will get photos of pretty little circles, like shown above.
Now, if you would like to use more Bokeh in your photos, then follow these steps: They can only be created a certain way:
USE THE RIGHT LENS:
The reason why some people get frustrated with bokeh is that they’re probably using the wrong lens. The secret to getting beautiful bokeh is using a lens that has an aperture of at least f/2.8. Unfortunately, the maximum aperture of a typical kit lens (the lens often found on entry-level cameras) only goes as low as f/4.5 or f/3.5. Although it’s more or less just two f-stops away from the ideal aperture, it’s still not wide enough to provide the background blur essential for bokeh.
Take a look at your lenses and see if you have a lens that will do this. If you got a kit lens, chances are you don’t have a lens that will open to f2.8 or lower. So, check all your lenses. A standard lens, with no zoom, is relatively inexpensive, and will generally go to f1.8, which is perfect for creating this effect.
Check out your aperture blades:
When choosing the ideal bokeh lens, also consider looking at aperture blades. The way they shape the aperture’s opening affects how the patterns in the background look. For instance, a lens with 9 blades creates a rounder aperture, making light sources appear circular and more natural-looking. On the other hand, a lens that has fewer blades (about 5 or 7) produces polygon-shaped orbs that look less desirable.
SET YOUR APERTURE MODE TO “AV”
The important thing to remember in creating the “bokeh” effect, is that you need to use a very wide aperture setting. F2.8 or bigger (or smaller number, like 1.8) will be the only way this works. If you want to go manual mode, that is fine, but, just make sure your aperture is set to the lower number.
CHOOSE A GOOD BACKGROUND:
To achieve bokeh, choosing the right background is crucial. Although it’s easy to blur a part of the scene with your lens, it doesn’t necessarily guarantee your image will have good bokeh.
Plain backgrounds don’t make good bokeh because there’s just nothing much going on visually. If you look at beautiful bokeh shots, you’ll notice that even with a blurry background, particular elements like light orbs or soft textures and patterns appear prominently in the image.
The perfect places to get bokeh is usually from urban locations. There, you usually have some kind of soft lights in the background that just make it nice.
Light reflecting on bodies of water such as ponds and lakes creates captivating bokeh effects as well.
Look for lights behind a possible portrait. This is truly a wonderful effect with bokeh, if everything is in it’s place. It just seems to give a dreamy effect.
Look for lights in the background when taking portraits. Or anything else that has a high reflective light coming from it, and see if you can enjoy getting some good “bokeh” photos.
Thought for the day:
If your pictures aren’t good enough, you’re not close enough.
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51 Different subjects to talk about….. This is just number 3 !
When I looked at the list of 51 different photos subjects, I knew there was going to be some subjects I would question. BUT, I like to take the challenge and find out how every subject has some sort of Photographic Interest.
Now the kitchen as a photographic subject, stunned me for a minute, until I tried to come up with photos that were taken in the kitchen. And I said: “YEAH”, WE CAN DO THIS!!!
There are three different types of photography you can do in the kitchen. One would be, obviously, to be the photographer who takes photos of a kitchen for the architect or kitchen designer. This would include photos like this:
Then there seems to be a real art in taking pictures of Food Creations. Chefs can be very artistic, and they take food creations very serious. They will make a plate of food, and then use herbs, or spices to make it a creative photo, and they will try to tie into your appetite. Like this:
Or even something like this:
That’s the point to this type of Kitchen Photography. If you are a chef of your own making, and want to post pictures of your food creations, then this is something you should learn to do, and it usually will involve a good lighting setup so that you can get the food in great detail without shadows and such.
And then the third type of kitchen photography would be to try artistic images. Here is one example:
Notice the lighting on a subject, and the way you can accent the steam. I think lighting on your subject will make you a true artist, if you can learn to see it’s potential in the art. Here are some other great ideas:
Now, when you want to take photos of things to be artistic, I hope this gives you some ideas. Color is a big thing in a kitchen, whether it’s a green thing, or something created, color is a selling item. I can see some of these above photos for sale, to be put on a wall in the kitchen.
Here are some ideas to help you with your kitchen photos:
If you would like to take on this assignment and try some photos created in your kitchen, take the photos, and send me a copy to: firstname.lastname@example.org. We will then post these photos on one of our blogs to show off your creative mind.
A photo can create a mood and communicate an idea that transcends its subject. At this performance at the Montreal Jazz Festival, there was a sense of anticipation, enhanced by dramatic lighting that revealed silhouettes on stage.
What were we about to watch and hear? It was a mystery:
Today, share an image that creates a sense of mystery. A lone mitten on a sidewalk. A trail that leads off into the distance. A creaky door that is left open. Intrigue us.
Today’s tip: Manipulate the light available to you to create a particular effect. Use it to create a shadow or highlights to create a certain mood. Work with natural light, or use artificial lighting.
The direction of light has a big impact on your photos. Things lit from the front have few shadows, and are evenly lit. When the light comes from the side, shadows and highlights are introduced, creating more texture and complexity. Lighting from behind throws things into sharp relief, silhouetting your subject. Wenjie Zhang explains different types of light in more detail — and shows great examples — in his post on the quality of light.
Here are shooting ideas that take advantage of light during various times of the day:
Take your photo during the dramatic and often moody “Golden Hour”: the time just after sunrise or before sunset when natural light is soft and takes on color tones of its own. (Explore submissions to our Golden Hour photo challenge for inspiration.)
Silhouette photography is something that is just beautiful, because it happens within the “story telling” mode. When you see a silhouette photo, it makes you think of what is going on, and it’s a great way to tell a story.
When you take a silhouette photo, make sure you have a camera that you can adjust the camera for exposure. Although, a camera that has just automatic mode may just give you good results. However, these newer cameras will sense that there is a subject in the foreground, and try to expose for that in automatic mode, thus, making your silhouette photo not turn out the way you dreamed about.
Almost any object can be made into a silhouette. However, some objects are better than others.
Choose something with a strong and recognizable shape that will be interesting enough in its two-dimensional form to hold the viewer’s attention.
Silhouettes can’t draw on the colors, textures, and tones of subjects to make themselves appealing, so the shape needs to be distinct.
And having people as the subject is usually one of the best subjects in silhouette photography, especially if it is someone you know. Funny thing is that the person in the photos usually loves the results of them being a silhouette.
2- If you have a camera with auto flash, make sure you turn that off. A silhouette will not be a silhouette when a flash is used.
3- Get the light right when you do silhouette photos.
When it comes to lighting your subject, you’ll need to throw out a lot of what you’ve learned about normal photography and think a little backward.
Instead of lighting the front of your subject, you need to ensure that there is more light shining from the background than the foreground of your shot. Or to put it another way, you want to light the back of your subject rather than the front.
The perfect setup is to place your subject in front of a sunset or sunrise – but any bright light will do the trick.
4- Make sure that the subject in your silhouette is distinct and uncluttered. If you use a person for your subject, that is usually the easy part. But, make sure there isn’t a lot of other “stuff” in the photo to distract from the main subject.
5- Use manual mode for your exposure control to get the photo just the way you want it.
A simple way to use Manual mode is to actually start in Auto. Point your camera at the brightest part of the sky, look at the shutter speed and aperture that your camera suggests, then switch over to Manual mode and dial in those settings.
Next, take a test shot and review it on your camera’s screen.
If your subject is too light (i.e., you need to make it darker), increase the shutter speed and see what happens. And if your subject is too dark, decrease the shutter speed to brighten up the shot.
Eventually, you’ll end up with a well-exposed silhouette!
6- Because you are working in the dark for your subject, make sure you keep it sharp. This is a time when autofocus might give you trouble, so be careful and watch that your focus is good.
7- If you want to take the time to be really creative, have controlled light with just enough light to highlight the edges of your subject, like the photo above. It is very dramatic and is something that really is a great piece of art. This is something that you would have to do with a manual camera, because the subject will need to be dark as well, plus the background may be dark, so you can get the lining of your subject lit.
Doing silhouette photography is something you have to practice with, but, when you get it right, it is a real piece of art. During the next little while, through summer and beyond, there will be that chance of some good sunset photography. Why not put a subject in the foreground, and take the photo just like you are taking a picture of the sunset, and you should get some great silhouette pictures. Good luck.