When you head off on your holidays you'll probably spend some time at the beach and when the sun begins to set and the sky fills with those warm, summer shades, you and every other person on the beach will be pulling their camera out of its bag. The low sun may make great landscape shots but put anything in between you and the sun and it'll turn into a dark silhouette lacking shape and texture.
However, this isn't always a bad thing. For summer silhouettes to work you need a strong, recognisable shape so if you've headed to the beach with your family, why not use one or all of them in your shot? You could also spend time shooting other people as they walk along the shore or stand to watch the sun set.
Make sure you know what time the sun will be setting and in what direction as you don't want to turn up at a beach to find you can't actually see the sun setting from it. Once you have your chosen location make sure you arrive in plenty of time, which shouldn't be a problem if you've had a day out at the beach, but if you haven't been on the sand, at least an hour or two before the sun is due to set. Do check out tide times too as you don't want your kit and your family swept out to sea!
How To Shoot
Once you have a willing subject position them so your light source is behind them and it can help if you set yourself up so you’re shooting from a slightly lower angle, although this isn't a must. Take a test shot and have a look at the image on the back of the screen. Chances are, unless you're working manually, you'll have shot a silhouette. If you don't get the desired look, try using exposure compensation and dial in a -1 or -2 setting. Using spot or centre-weighted metering will also help you capture a silhouette, although can still use multi-zone metering, you just need to aim the camera up at the sky and use exposure lock to take a reading from the brighter sky. Then all you have to do is recompose and take your image.
What To Photograph
As mentioned strong shapes work well so get your subject to try and make different shapes while stood on the sand. This should be quite easy with kids but you may have to be more persuasive with adults!
If you have a group of people, get them to jump in the air so you can capture the shapes they create at the top of their jump. Try capturing a couple holding hands as they watch the sun go down or introduce props to keep your kids busy and more relaxed. Giving them a ball to throw or a bucket and spade to carry will create more interesting shapes and as a result you'll have a more dynamic shot.
Experiment with angle and how far you crop in too to see how it can make a more interesting picture. If you're photographing someone's head, for example, shoot them as a profile rather than face on as you'll be able to see more features. Don't have too many objects too close together either as they'll all merge into one indistinct shape and the effect won't work as well.
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