I think one of the most popular questions after I did my first Christmas Tree tutorial was how do you get a silhouette using your Christmas tree as the back light. Well hopefully this post answers your questions. In this post I will focus more on the SLR cameras, however, you should be able to do this same thing using your point and shoots as long as you can move into manual mode.
So step 1: put your camera in Manual – yes, full on manual - the “M”. its really not that scary trust me.
My first suggestion is to crank up your ISO. I put mine on 1600. At first I shot ISO 400 but then I had to have my shutter speed to slow that I got camera shake when I handheld. its easier to just crank up your ISO at first. Oh and as I did before, these are SOOC images (well converted to jpeg and saved for web) because this isn’t a Photoshop Tutorial, this is a get it done in camera tutorial… Did you notice I said “convert to jpeg” what does that mean? Well it means I shoot in RAW, I definitely recommend it, even if you are a beginner but that’s a subject for another day!
Ok now meet my first model – Buzz Lightyear – I HIGHLY suggest using a stationary model first especially if your target model is under the age of 4! From my experience kids under 4 don’t have much patience for you messing with the camera for much longer than 30 seconds, so practice first, then once you have your settings
bribe, I mean get your child.
Ok this first shot is just showing what is NOT a silhouette My settings were ISO 400 (notice the blur, yeah that’s cause I was hand holding) SS: 1/30 Aperture: f/1.8
Ok so there are 2 different silhouettes you can get, and it depends on your taste which one you like better. Please let me know which you prefer in the comments!! This one is keeping my aperture wide open: ISO: 400 SS: 1/250 Ap: f/1.8
And here’s the version with the aperture closed down, with this version you can see more of the details in the tree, more ornaments and stuff: ISO 1600 SS: 1/10 (tripod) Ap: f/16
Ok now that I have my test subject done, I can move onto my 3.5 year old. AND it took a lot of convincing, but we finally explained that good little boys help their moms’ out and santa is always watching after all (elf on the shelf helped a little too!)
ISO 1600 SS 1/640 AP f/1.8
ISO 1600 SS 1/10 Ap f/16
Oh and P.S. The equipment I was using was my Canon 5D with the 85 f/1.8 lens. Ideally I would have gotten the WHOLE tree in the background, but I’ve been having a couple problems with my 50 f/1.4 lens so I didn’t really want to mess around with that.
I really hope you enjoyed this follow up tutorial, please leave me a little love if you’ve found it helpful!