How to take Silhouette photos with one flash using dslr camera portraits

This blog is in continuation with the last weeks blog , i mentioned a trick of using Off Camera TTL Flash and a Wireless Flash Trigger. This blog shows you how you can use the same Off Camera TTL Flash to get a silhouette.

What is Silhouette?

A silhouette is defined as a view of an object or a scene consisting of the outline and a featureless interior, with the object usually being completely dark or black. Silhouette photography is a wonderful way to show emotions, actions etc. In this post i will be showing how you can get silhouette with one flash only.


Things needed for the setup ?

One Off Camera TTL Flash and white or cream wall or background. Depending on your area where you are shooting you can use a 50mm 1.8g prime lens or a Nikkor 24-70mm F/2.8 or regular 18-55mm lens. Canon user please use any of these lenses

Canon EF 24-70mm

Canon EF50MM F/1.8


silhouette with one flash setup

Silhouette with one flash setup

The Actual Photo shoot

As shown in the above figure the Off Camera TTL Flash should be facing the  wall or background right behind the subject at 45 degree up angle.  The Wireless Flash Trigger should be connected to the camera, make sure the mode on the Flash is select M and your flash triggers in sync when you click the shutter button.

Make the flash power high enough to blow out the wall.

The most important step  is before taking the shot with the flash , turn off the flash and take a photo of the wall and keep increasing the aperture or f-stop until the photo is completely black. The reason for doing this is without the flash the surrounding comes all dark and as soon as we introduce the flash only the object in front of the flash is silhouetted.

Since the aperture would be higher (for me its f10) you would definitely need a Tripod. And also in my photo i was the subject of the photo so i also used a Wireless Remote Camera Shutter Trigger which i pressed when the entire setup was ready and i was in front of the camera. The camera mode was fully manual.

Post Processing

one flash silhoutte post processed

one flash silhoutte post processed

one flash silhoutte post processed warm

one flash silhoutte post processed warm

As you can see in the above comparison the left image is the original raw photo. The right one is the processed image. The settings on the far right are from lightroom, I added a bit of exposure. Increased the contrast, highlight and whites. In the second photo i didnt want white background and wanted to add some vignette. So I moved the temperature to the warmed side as pointed by the arrow in the second image above. And set the vignette value to -25. I use Adobe Lightroom for processing my photos.

And as pointed in all my post always shoot raw.

Camera settings for the photos

Lens : Nikkor 24-70mm F/2.8

Camera: Nikon D610

Shutter Speed : 1/200th second

Aperture for single Portraits: F10 ( this is needed to get dark picture without the flash on)

ISO for single portraits: 100

Focal Length: 56mm

Flash Settings

Mode M

Zoom 50mm

Power : 1/4th

Angle: 45 degree up


I hope you liked this post and will experiment and share your results on this post. Until next time enjoy and keep learning.



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