Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Project 4 ~ Backlighting

I'm learning things from this book,
 "The A-Z of Creative Photography" by Lee Frost,
in more ways then expected.
(1/640, f6.5, 100 ISO)
 I decided once life settles down,
 after the first of the year, I need to 
scout around for interesting locations to complete future projects in this book.
For this project, Backlighting, I practiced in my little backyard
and I'm not particularly proud of my available subjects.
Nearly all the leaves have dropped, things are
brown and where did the flowers go?
I'm looking forward to applying what I've learn
during our next vacation or day trip.
(1/400 sec, f5, 100 ISO)
Frost writes...
"Point your camera toward the main light source so your subject is backlit,
this technique, usually referred to as contre-jour (against the day), 
is one of the most exciting photographic techniques available 
and can be applied to a wide range of subjects, from portraits 
to landscapes."
(1/500, f14, 100 ISO Natural Starburst)
I'm in agreement with...
"when your subject is backlit you need to make a
conscious decision about the type of effect you wish to record."
Such as a silhouette, highlighting the outline of your subject,
creating a starburst, and many other dramatic effects.
Frost's photos for this chapter are exquisite, 
as all his examples!
(1/250 sec, f10, 100 ISO)
I hope to use the backlighting technique next time I try ~
capturing a storm coming in,
a peaceful day at the lake,
light shining in through a window,
or a street scene.
(1/250 sec, f4.0, 100 ISO)
The above photo is of a closeup of 
the valve of a propane tank not being used at the moment.
(1/250 sec, f4.0, 100 ISO)
This shot is of the last flower in our backyard
with the setting sun shining through it's petals.

*****   Photography Notes   *****

1)  One of the strengths of backlight is that it emphasizes shape so you will want to find subjects with strong shapes.

2)  When there is not enough ambient light to capture the details in the foreground you can use fill flash or a reflector.

3)  If you have your camera set to evaluative metering it will take into account the entire scene and try to determine the best exposure. This works great when you have a fairly evenly lit scene, but when you have a scene with high contrast it doesn’t work as well. Your camera can’t meter for both the bright areas and the dark areas at the same time.The solution is to switch to a different metering mode, such as spot metering, so you can tell your camera which part of the frame is important to you. 

4)  Create a starburst effect in a silhouette image when the sun is still above the horizon. To do this, position yourself so that the sun is partially hidden behind an object and use a small aperture, like f/22.

5)  Point your camera directly at the part of the scene you want to exposure for and use the exposure lock feature on your camera to set the exposure (check your camera manual to find the exposure lock function on your camera). Then you can recompose and press the shutter half way to set the focus while the exposure remains locked.  Exposure Lock Feature for my Canon 6D article from Canon Digital Learning Center here.  

AND    How to Modify Camera Exposure on Your Canon EOS 6D instructions from the "Dummy" series here.


Metering Smaller sized aperture/larger F-number.   With sunrises and sunsets, one rule of thumb is to meter on the sky with the sun just out of the bottom of the camera frame. Use this as your starting exposure.

Set your camera’s Exposure Compensation to somewhere between -1 and -2, depending on the intensity of the backlight. This retains detail in the shadow areas of the subject.

Filter – You can also help balance the tones of the ground and sky by using a graduated neutral density (GND) filter, which are dark at the top and gradually fade to clear. A two-stop GND filter (dark area is two f-stops darker than the clear area) is suggested for sunrises and sunsets.

Online Backlighting article by Mother Nature Network (here)

Picture Correct articles on Backlighting (here). http://www.picturecorrect.com/?s=Backlighting+&search-button=Search

*****  *****  *****  
“One doesn’t stop seeing. One doesn’t stop framing.
 It doesn’t turn off and turn on. It’s on all the time.”
— Annie Leibovitz
Happy Click'n!


  1. love the star most of all and love that valve shot. wow

  2. Well done! And your explanations are easy to understand - thank you.

  3. You have explained, what can sometimes be a complicated subject, very well. Thank you.


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© Emily J Powell and Millie @ Click'n Camera, February 10, 2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Emily J Powell and Millie @Click'n Camera with appropriate and specific direction to the original content. Photos may not be used, copied, printed without prior permission.