A: Sometimes, when you shoot silhouettes, there’s detail in the part of the picture you want to be completely black. The first thing to do is stick with bold, distinctive subjects that are easily recognizable – people, statues, trees, etc. Once you’ve found your subject, you need to compose the picture so that it’s against a clean background like a bright sky. Get low down with the camera looking up.

The best silhouettes have plenty of contrast between the subject and background which is why bright days give the best results. In a bright backlit situation, most cameras will automatically produce silhouettes. If you want to make sure you get the right result, aim the camera at a bright (but not the brightest) part of the scene and take an exposure reading. Then manually set your camera to those settings (or use the exposure lock) and then take the picture.

If the sun is in your scene, beware of lens flare. You can end up with streaks across the image which decrease contrast. Or you can end up with lens flare artifacts – bubbles of light on your photos that are caused by reflections within the camera. One way of avoiding this is to shield the sun behind something (like a tree or someone’s head).

You’ve probably heard that it’s dangerous to look at the sun through a telescope or binoculars. The simple fact is that it’s dangerous to look at the sun. Period! And that includes pointing your camera at the sun with you looking through the viewfinder. Any such pictures you try to take are at your own risk. You’re better off focusing on a scene with the sun out of frame, closing your eye and turning until the sun is in the picture. And getting the sun in the right position requires a bit of guesswork. The picture at right was taken using this technique. It did take a couple of tries to get the result I wanted though.

But the question you have to ask is: Is the picture I’m trying to take potentially worth damaging my eyesight over?

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