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Texas based landscape photographer

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How to Shoot Amazing Silhouettes at Sunset

I absolutely LOVE shooting silhouettes at sunset everywhere I go! This last weekend I was in San Francisco and I swear it sets the scene for some of the most amazing sunset pictures ever! 

The best thing about sunset silhouette pictures, is that they can be done anywhere and at almost anytime. You don't need the sun setting behind your couple in order to get one of these amazing shots! You just need a low enough angle, which usually involves lying on the ground and the sun somewhat behind your subject, to get one of these cool shots!

Here are some examples of the sunset silhouette pictures that I take.... if at the end, you want to know how I get these kind of shots, read on and I'll tell you!

A family at sunset

A family at sunset

A beautiful handmade wedding veil looks great at sunset!

A beautiful handmade wedding veil looks great at sunset!

Clouds make for amazing sunset shots

Clouds make for amazing sunset shots

San Francisco Golden Gate Bride at Sunset - engagement photo
A fun couple jumping in the air at Sunset!

A fun couple jumping in the air at Sunset!

Did I mention that clouds make awesome sunset pictures?

Did I mention that clouds make awesome sunset pictures?

As you can see, I love taking these kinds of pictures! It's honestly taken me years to figure out how to get this kind of shot at almost every session I do!

The first thing you need is for the sun to be behind your subject ;) Then you need to get low.... real low! Here's a picture of what I normally look like when I take one of these pictures.

Sometimes, you have to lie down in dirt, weeds or on rocks, but the end result is usually worth it!

Sometimes, you have to lie down in dirt, weeds or on rocks, but the end result is usually worth it!

The reason you want to get such a low angle, is you want your subject to stand out and the only way that is going to happen is if there is nothing but sky behind them. Look around at your next shoot, find a little hill (it doesn't have to be big), lie on the ground and see what it looks like ;)

The next step is usually placing your camera in aperture priority (not sure what Canon calls it). When your in aperture priority, your camera will normally expose for the sky in the background. If you find it's not working right, increase your shutter speed until you get the proper exposure.

The last thing you need to do, is make sure you can see your subjects outline clearly. I normally tell my couples to "almost kiss" or if they are holding hands, I want them to look at each other so I can see the outline of their face. If you get them to close to each other, they will look like a big blob with two faces kissing... getting separation is key! You can always take it further by having them jumping or dancing!

That's all there is to it! Now you need to spend some time in Lightroom, playing with the color, gradient filters and your shadows. You will definitely have to lower your shadows a lot, if not all the way. Tinker with it for a little while and when you come up with something great, save your action, so that you can apply it anytime in the future when you try this shot again!

I've told you how I go about getting my angles and the camera settings I use. It's up to you to figure out your composition and Lightroom actions. Composition is going to be what really sets your picture apart! So when you get the chance to try this shot, move your camera around... position your subject at the bottom, top, left and right and see what you like the best in post. It hardly takes any time and always makes for a beautiful shot!

I would love to see what you come up with! email me your pics to me at joe@joehendricks.com or tag me on Facebook! Would love to see if my blog has any effect on you getting cool sunset photos!

As I've stated before, we have to encourage each other to get better. If you share what you know with others, you in turn will be pushed yo take your photography to the next level, so don't be afraid to share with others how you go about taking pictures!

Joe Hendricks