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Tips On Photographing A Silhouette Of A Lighthouse

Techniques > Tips On Photographing A Silhouette Of A Lighthouse

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Category: Landscape and Travel

How To Shoot Lighthouse Silhouettes - Learn how to shoot lighthouse silhouettes for the next time you're heading off on holiday or on a day trip.

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Photogenic lighthouses can be found all around the UK's coastline and many of us are close enough to head out for a day trip where a space for photographing a lighthouse, among other things, can be made. However, not all shots need be taken when there's plenty of light in the sky as silhouettes of lighthouses can be just as interesting as ones that capture textures and colour.

Lighthouse silhouette
Photo by David Clapp - www.davidclapp.co.uk

Gear Suggestions

You can use any lens for a lighthouse silhouette, depending on the type of image you are wanting to shoot. With a wide-angle, you will need to get in closer and that means converging verticals although that it not a problem with a lighthouse. However, the top will look rather thin and spindly.

From further away, you can frame the lighthouse along the base of the frame and let a colourful sunrise or sunset sky dominate. With a telephoto, you can retreat even further away so it really depends on the effect you are wanting to get.

It's always a good idea to use a tripod for landscapes as you need to ensure your horizons are straight and it makes it easier to adjust your camera settings too.
If you find that there is not enough warmth or tone in the sky, you can add some with a coloured filter. Plenty of camera bags, such as those found in Vanguard's Vojo range, have compartments for accessories such as these, plus they don't take up much room.


Time Of Day

Timing your shoot is the key thing here. Of course, you can shoot silhouettes at any time of day, but they often look much better when there is some warmth in the sky, so early or late in the day is best.

Early isn't for everyone, however the advantage of sunrise, though, is that there are not many people around so it depends on the effect you are after.

The Weather

You are obviously very dependent on the sky for this technique and you can get good effects in all sorts of conditions – dull, even greyness is when it is not worth the effort.

Don't Look At The Sun

One word of warning with the sun – you should never look through the camera directly at the sun because you can permanently damage your eyes. For silhouettes like this make sure that the sun is shielded by the lighthouse when you are framing up. Or if you want the sun in the frame, use the camera's Live View feature so you can frame up safely.

How To Create A Silhouette

Aim a camera at a brightly backlit scene and a silhouette is often the result anyway. Some multi-zone metering systems will try to avoid that, though, and give you more detail than you might want in the shadows. This is easily sorted by aiming the camera up at the sky and using the auto exposure lock to take a reading off the brighter sky. You could use the spot or centre-weight light measurement modes of your camera but multi-segment should work fine too. Recompose and shoot for the perfect silhouette. Or just set -1EV or even -2EV on the exposure compensation dial.

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