06 Sep #HFFH HOW-TO: THE ADVENTURE SILHOUETTE
Give me an option to shoot one photo to hang up above our imaginary fireplace in our imaginary home, and it will be a person silhouetted against any dramatic ‘scape (land, sea or sky) with soft early morning sunlight illuminating the fog around them.
The adventure silhouette is my weakness.
If done properly, the viewer is left almost speechless, and is itching to get out there to do the same. I think the main reason these photos are so alluring, is because they create such magical and fantastical scenes; more than just a portrait of a person in the outdoors. They represent the relationship between humans and the untamed wild. They are the cover photos of the adventure photography page.
So, what’s the best way to get a shot like this?
# 1: Adventure.
Venture as far out of the city as you can. The air will be cleaner, the stars will be brighter, and the landscapes will be more dramatic.
# 2: Planning composition.
You will be shooting from late afternoon to early morning, so planning where the sun will set, or rise, is key. If you are shooting stars, then check to see on what day the moonlight is at its lowest – a bright moon will blow out your image. Websites such as Moon Giant can help you with that.
# 3: Know your light.
There is more to sunrise and sunset than you think. The twilights are some of the best times to shoot, and range before sunrise and after sunset, consisting of:
(the order is reversed for Sunrise)
Even if you think you have the shot, wait out the light, as each phase produces different results.
#4: Play with scale.
Depending on what your vision is, try shoot your subject as a tiny Lego character lost in a landscape, or make him or her the main focus. Shoot from behind, in front of, and to the side. Get them to jump, climb or kayak. Movement always adds to the picture. If you are shooting into the morning or evening sun, try place your subject between you and the sun to block it out. This will give you a magical glow behind your adventure partner.
# 5: Gear and settings.
If your subject is in low light, a tripod is must. Bring a remote clicker if you are shooting stars or long exposure, and don’t forget to bring some running shoes if you are taking a self portrait using the 10-second timer. As with most shots, keeping the ISO down will help with noise reduction, but the rule of thumb for star photography is to try not go higher than 3200 (as suggested by our astrophotographer friends, Tanja and Cory), then to use Lightroom or Photoshop’s noise-reduction filters to remove the grain. A camera with manual settings is ideal, as you can change the settings to shoot your vision, but a point-and-shoot camera or smartphone will still work when shooting into the sun.
With all that being said, inspiration is important, so we have compiled a collection of some of the most inspiring adventure silhouettes we could find.
Below are some of our own adventure silhouettes, taken during our many adventures.
If you’ve found some epic shots we haven’t featured, or you’ve recently ventured out to give it a bash, paste the link in our comments below. Looking forward to seeing what you come up with.