The best camera settings for shadow photography.

Learn how to take stunning pictures of silhouettes with the perfect camera settings for shadow photography.

Cameras rely on light to take a picture — what happens when you want to photograph a shadow? Here’s how to set up your camera to take incredible pictures of subjects in full shadow.

Capture stark, stylish shadow photos with the right camera settings.

Taking pictures of shadows is all about underexposing your subject. For that, you want to keep the shutter speed fast, ISO low, and aperture closed. It might take some experimentation to find the perfect settings for your style, but these settings are a good place to start:

  • Aperture — You want a wide aperture for shadow photography, around f/8 or higher, for two reasons. First, you want a large depth of field to reduce background blur. Second, it’ll help to reduce chromatic aberration (colored fringes around edges) from shooting into a light source.
  • Shutter speed — The point of shadow photography is to make your subject too dark. For that, you want the shutter to move fast and let in less light. Start with a shutter speed around 1/125 for still subjects and increase as needed to darken your photos.
  • ISO — To keep your shadow photos dark, keep your ISO as low as possible. High ISO also adds noise to photos, making them grainy. Noise is very obvious in black colors, so keep the ISO between 100 and 200.

Shadow photography doesn’t require a flash: While it might help to light up the background, it’ll also light up your subjects. Just leave it at home and work on honing your camera settings.

Adjust shadow photos with photo editing software.

Even with the perfect camera settings, most shadow photography is finished in a photo editor. With photo editors like Adobe Photoshop and Lightroom, you can adjust the exposure, brightness, shadows, highlights, and more to create the perfect silhouette pictures.

Discover great photography tips for photographers of all skill levels. Explore what more you can do with Photoshop and Lightroom to capture haunting shadow photos.