iPhone Life magazine

How to Master "Silhouettes" with Your iPhone

Eye of the Horizon Jamie Rhoades

Hello friends and fellow iphoneographers. In this post I will be teaching you tips and tricks for capturing fantastic silhouette shots. For starters, you can use many different subjects for your silhouette shots. This includes people, birds, trees, or any object that would form a great silhouette. You always want to make sure your subject is in front of the lighting you choose to use. I find the best silhouettes are captured using natural light in the background. Sunrises and sunsets are my personal favorite backgrounds for capturing fantastic silhouette shots. I believe you can never go wrong using one of these as your backdrop. 

Here's how I captured this shot along with some tips you can use on your next silhouette shot. My family and I were on vacation in Florida when I shot this. I wanted to catch the sunrise over the ocean, and I brought one of our sons with me to enjoy the beauty. I told him to go ahead of me and just enjoy himself while I took some shots.

First I took my photos with ProCamera7 ($4.99). This is my go-to app for shooting all my photos. This app has a lot to offer, but what is most important to me is the option to use focus and exposure while shooting. By tapping the screen before you shoot, you can bring these options up. This is very important when capturing silhouettes. Move the focus on your subject, and then slide your exposure around to adjust the lighting. Do not darken the image too much, because you'll never be able to lighten it the right way. You will always be able to darken the image in your editing process. You have to find a good balance between your backdrop/background and your subject. Just make sure your background is visible, and your subject is darkened as much as the exposure will allow. Now take multiple shots, and from multiple angles toensure you have captured photo that are in focus and adjusted correctly.

After I took my shots, I selected my favorite and started my editing process. To start off my silhouette process, I brought the photo into Snapseed (free). first I went to the Tune Image setting, and started off with the Ambiance setting. (Tip: It is very important that you always use adjustments on any settings you use, in every app.) While in the ambiance option, I adjusted to 65 percent. I went to the Shadows option next, and adjusted to 15 percent. Then, I went to the Warmth option and adjusted that to 20 percent. Lastly I went to the Brightness option. This is very important, and where you will secure your silhouette. I adjusted to 15 percent. This was the process I used for this photo, and for most of my silhouette photos. Just make sure you use your adjustments to your liking. Your creativity plays a big role in these processes. If your photo needs to be "straightened" this is also a great app for that as well. Next, I saved to camera roll.

My next step was using another must-have app called PS Express (free). This is "the" app for adjusting your photo to look like it was shot with an expensive DSLR. The first thing I did was bring my photo to the Sharpen option. I adjusted this to 45 percent. What this does is fine-tune your photo, which gives it that crisp professional look. After the sharpening, I went to the De-noise option. Processing our iPhone photos can add unwanted noise (fuzziness) to the photo. This is how we eliminate that. I adjusted the De-noise option to 60 percent. Now I had a photo with no noise, which was as crisp as any professional photo out there! These settings are different on each shot, so pay attention to your photo, and adjust according to your liking. Next, I saved to camera roll.

Next I decided to add some color to make the image pop. I brought my photo into another favorite of mine called Mextures ($1.99). Although this app has a ton of fantastic filters, I almost always use it for the Landscape Enhance option. After bringing it into this option, I chose the Autumn Skies filter. I adjusted it to 30 percent. Inside the Landscape Enhance option there are a few awesome filters. I always suggest trying a few different ones until you find the one you like. Make sure to use your adjustments. Too much or too little could mean all the difference. It will all depend on your preferences and your creativity. Next I saved to camera roll.

The last app I brought this photo into is one I recently found and that I have become quite fond of. The app is Photo fx ($2.99). Photo fx really adds that extra bit of color that just wows you. I highly recommend it. There are many different filters here that can be used on all types of photos, not just landscapes. I brought my photo into the 812 Warming option, and chose option two. This was one of the lighter filters, since Mextures did a great job already. Now that my photo was complete and ready to be shared, I saved to camera roll.

I hope this workflow will help you on your next silhouette photo. Practice makes perfect, though this should bring you right up to speed. If anyone has any questions or comments feel free to chime in below. 

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Jamie Rhoades's picture
I'm just a regular guy with a union concrete job. I have a wonderful wife and children who are loving supporters of my hobby which is "iPhoneography." I'll be sharing methods I use to create great photos with your iPhone. You can always find my work on Google+, ampt community, The Mobile Photograhy Blog.