Silhouette Landscape Lighting

Silhouette Landscape Lighting

By Mike Gambino


Silhouette lighting is a less commonly used lighting effect yet when done right can be very dramatic. Not all landscapes lend themselves to the use of this effect.

But when they do the results can be striking.  It’s a very useful lighting technique because it often allows the lighting designer to accomplish two things at once; lighting up the architecture or building, and providing sharp contrast between the lighted  object and its background.  It also works well as fill in or transition lighting when bridging effect from one object to another to establish continuity in the space.

Normally, fixture or fixtures are place behind or behind and to the side of plant material and close enough to a wall to evenly light it.  This will create a dark silhouette of the object by illuminating the backside of the plant and its fringes.

Silhouettes can be created on plants and subjects without walls behind them but are usually less effective as the background needs to be more brightly illuminated than the foreground in order to be most effective. A wall or better a light colored wall makes it easier to accomplish this. Silhouette lighting is very specialized and is not used in all lighting installations. Silhouette lighting effects should be considered and are most effective in the following situations.

1.  With dense, dark colored or bold leafy plants or those with close branching structure. Or subjects that won’t or don’t lend themselves to being effectively illuminated from the front.
2.  It is more effective with subjects close to a wall.
3.  Position lights behind front branches to silhouette.
4.  When lighting large, leafy trees, place the fixtures behind and to the edges of the tree.  This will only light up the outer tips of the branches creating a silhouette.

This landscape lighting blog is published by Mike Gambino of Gambino landscape lighting inc. all rights reserved. Mike is a professional landscape lighting system designer/ builder and has been designing, installing and maintaining landscape lighting systems for more than 20 years. Mike resides in the Los Angeles area with his wife and 2 sons. To visit his website go to www.gambinolighting.com . To inquire about hiring Mike please click here .

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