Silhouettes can be among some of the more graphic images that an outdoor photographer can make. When you know what to look for and a few simple tricks, silhouettes can be easy images to create. Silhouettes occur when your subject is in front of a background that is much brighter that your subject. This situation most often occurs when your subject is in front of a sunset or sunrise sky, when you set your exposure for the brighter background this will render your subject as a dark featureless silhouette.
The old adage “less is more” very much applies when composing silhouettes. For these types of images to be effective, they need to be very graphic and very simple. You want to distill the image down to just the silhouette and the background. When you are making silhouette images you want to try to position your subject so that is in front of the most colorful part of the background. In order to isolate your subject against your chosen background you will often want to use your longest lens because the narrow angle of view provided by these lenses will help you select the best section of background for your shot. It is also important that you not allow anything else in the frame to merge with your subject. Because anything that touches your subject in a silhouette will become part of your silhouette. You want to work to make sure that the outline of your subject is free of these distracting elements.