Camera settings for silhouette photography.

Learn how to balance exposure and create contrast with your camera's manual settings to capture dramatic silhouettes.

In silhouette photography, photographers rely on shapes to tell a story. A solid, shadowed image of a subject is set against a bright background, creating a stark contrast for visual interest. While the effect has a dramatic reward, it takes a little camera prep to get it just right. Let's explore what that can look like.

Settings for stunning silhouette photos.

With silhouette photography, you'll want to "trick" your camera into underexposing your subject, which you can achieve by working with its manual settings. Here’s a helpful, quick guide:

If you're having difficulty getting the exposure just right, switch to your camera's spot metering mode if available and point the focus to the background — i.e., the brightest part of your image. This reading can work as a guide to help adjust your aperture and shutter speed to the correct settings.

Don't be afraid to experiment with other photography techniques, too — like taking multiple exposures and combining them in post-processing for the desired silhouetted effect. When you're ready to edit, transform raw images into breathtaking photos. Explore everything you can do with Adobe Photoshop and Lightroom.