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How To?? Shoot the Perfect Silhouette

June 8, 2015

Silhouette of a Whaleshark

A well shot silhouette is one of the more simple yet most stunning examples of an underwater photograph when done well. Although a brilliant silhouette may look intricate and difficult to get right, it’s often the composition that has made it stand out rather than a technical setup. With a few tips, anyone can learn to take a great silhouette photo, here are 5 tips to get you on the right track.


  1. Use a fast shutter speed: it’s the shutter speed that freezes the light rays, use as high of a shutter speed as you can. Don’t forget to turn off your internal flash if you are shooting with fibre optics, the internal flash will limit your shutter speed capabilities


  1. Block the sun: by blocking the sun with your main subject or leaving it outside of the frame, the “rays” take centre stage and are not overshadowed by a bright sun ball


  1. Don’t use too high of an f-stop: the higher your f-stop the darker the edges of the photo become, if you want the silhouette to stand out against a brilliant blue then f8-f11 is the perfect f-stop


  1. Choose a subject that is recognizable in silhouette! Large subjects such as mantas, sharks, and turtles work well as silhouettes.


  1. Try shooting on shutter priority: Shooting “natural light” is the only time I might consider shooting with anything other than Manual mode underwater. By choosing shutter priority and then selecting a shutter speed of 1/500 I know I will get very nice sun rays if I compose my photo properly and the sunlight is right. As the sun rays are the most important part of a silhouette, then having the correct shutter speed is my “priority” on the shot and I can let the camera figure out the f-stop if I am moving quickly.

Mike Veitch

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