How and why do I shoot a silhouette, like this one I shot recently in Toronto:
Why? To create a mood. In this case a serious, almost grim, mood suits the Gothic cathedral theme, and goes together well with the threatening sky, and the wide lens adds to this “closing in on me” feeling. I suppose if I were religious this would not be the sort of picture I’d make!
How do you do this? This is just an underexposed picture, in essence, so it does not really matter how you get there. Manual, or metering off the sky, or exposure compensation (negative). Or all three.
Me, I use my spot meter to meter off the sky. Then I lock that in using Exposure lock, after I perhaps add some negative exposure compensation. Or more likely, I use manual – again, using the spot meter on the sky as my starting point.
My aim is to get the building almost black – I prefer to do the last bit in Lightroom, because if I am too low, I have to increase exposure which adds noise. Decreasing exposure does not add noise that way.
Go shoot a few silhouettes, for fun!