I love to capture silhouettes while taking engagement pictures. And as with most everything in life - once you know how, they're easy!
Most people would never guess that the following two photos were taken within a few seconds of each other. Same couple. Same setting. Same lighting. The difference: the camera exposure setting. Beneath the photos I explain further...
A camera can only capture a narrow spectrum of the visible light. While our eyes can see a much greater range of detail from light to dark, the camera has to select a certain portion of that range and focus on it: everything brighter becomes pure white and darker becomes black.
To capture a silhouette: set your camera exposure to properly exposure the bright sky. When the camera looks at the bright sky it will darken the overall exposure, leaving you with a silhouette.
This often involves getting down lower and photographing up towards the couple and the sky. In the silhouette image above I was across a little pond from the couple. I was down as near as I could get to the water, which still wasn't low enough. So I held the camera down just above the surface of the water and fired away. Every few shots I would look at the LCD to make sure I was properly framing the couple and scene. Most of the images were crooked but I knew that they could be straightened out in Photoshop.
When I opened the image in Photoshop I darkened up the shadow areas and adjusted the color in the sky.
If you don't know how to set your camera to meter and exposure for a certain part of an image you will need to get your camera's instruction manual out and do some studying! On many DSLR's you'll want to point your camera at the sky, hit the "auto-exposure lock" button, then recompose and take the picture. With a point and shoot camera you may see if the camera has a silhouette mode you can use, or you could try manually adjusting (to darken) the exposure.
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