Backlighting in Photography: Tips, Examples
As a newbie in photography, have you ever been told not to shoot into the light? Maybe someone has told you to always shoot with the light coming from behind the camera. Or, maybe you are just intimidated by the idea of pointing the camera towards the light.
Well, if you believed that, you are missing on some worthwhile opportunities here. Contrary to popular belief, the use of backlight or backlighting (where a light source is behind the main subject), is a technique that can produce wonderful images. However, this is not easy to pull off. In fact, the backlight technique is considered in photography as an advanced technique. There several things to consider when using this technique so don’t get easily frustrated or disappointed. Once mastered, this technique will let you add drama and visual impact to your photographs.
The two most challenging aspects to consider when photographing backlit subjects are to ensure you are using the correct exposure and to adequately eliminate flare.To eliminate flare, most photographers suggest to use a designated lens hood to keep stray light from striking the front element of the lens. In fact, as an added bonus, the use of a good quality lens hood can improve saturation in all images. If you still see unwanted highlights in your images when viewed via viewfinder as a result of flare, try repositioning your camera.
To avoid overexposure which is a common problem with using backlight, it is highly advised to use smaller (higher numbered stops) aperture settings to limit light and reduce the chances of overexposing the image. Another technique is to manipulate exposure compensation. It is best to give between one and two stops extra exposure (+1EV or +2EV) from the ‘normal’ exposure suggested by the camera. Alternatively, you should take a spot meter reading from the shadow area and expose at the camera’s reading (which would require no compensation).
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Below are some awesome examples showing effective use of backlight or backlighting technique:
01- Crowd Control
02- Water and Sky
03- El Arbol dela Vida
04- Sitting, Waiting, Wishing
05- Going Home
06- The Lonely Bicycle
07- The Lonely Tree and the Ray of Light
08- The Bugs Will Dance at Twilight
10- Backlight Solarization