Sometimes I start things and I don’t finish them. There. I said it. I always have lots of excuses, but what it usually boils down to is that I let other things take priority. It’s not that I DON’T want to finish something, it’s just that, well… I’m easily distracted. One thing I’ve found that helps me, though, is to be accountable to someone or even better – a group. Recently, I tossed the idea out into the world of Instagram stories that I was interested in a collaboration to keep me honest about regularly practicing with my camera. Out of that cautious plea was born a photo project that I’m certain will keep my photo-play alive. #52xphotos is a year-long endeavor with fellow Viewfinders Staci and Kim. It’s just getting started, but I know that it’s going to be a catalyst that will keep my photo-momentum going. We’ll decide on a new topic that will get posted on the Monday of each month and post images every Friday on the topic until the month is complete. It’s just the right amount of accountability and work that I need right now. For November it’s been all about back-lighting.
I intended the project to be only once a week, however, I find that I’m shooting much more often than that. I keep stopping the car and getting out for “just one more.” You can consider that backlighting is when the source of light is behind the subject being photographed. How you choose to expose the subject is up to you. If you expose the subject properly, the light coming from behind them will be blown out – over exposed.
If you expose for the light, then your subject will typically be underexposed, creating a silhouette.
You can compensate for underexposure by doing a few things including leaving the shutter open longer to allow more fill into the scene or you can add fill light in with additional light. For my first photo for our backlit project, I started out with my flash off my camera on a cheap radio trigger. My flash was hanging out behind my yoga block and I wanted to see how much light would spill out from that placement.
Turns out not a whole lot, so I grabbed another block and put my flash on top. For my subject, I grabbed the closest thing at hand (a metal ampersand) and went to town. My first test shot was dramatically over exposed and I don’t mean that in a good way. So, I raised the aperture and increased the shutter speed to tone down the amount of light and managed to create my next teaching (ahem, mistake) image. Forgetting that the sync speed on my flash was closer to 1/250th of a second, I had managed to make the camera’s shutter open and close faster than my flash could fire – hence the black line running across my image. Finally, I got my act together (it takes awhile) and I was getting closer to creating something more legible. I played around with the camera placement and rearranged my object a number of times until I noticed that I could see the blue sky so clearly in the background. Which gave me the idea to slide my wooden block letters from one edge of the windowsill to the other so they could be seen in the frame.
Even though I didn’t create an image that I’d want to hang on my wall, I am proud of the fact that I took the time to play and practice something new. And I still have another week to practice with these new tools! Maybe you’ve been thinking about trying something new, too? If you happen to practice the backlit technique, please share it with us by tagging #52xphotos on Instagram. We’ll be starting a new topic in December, so if backlighting isn’t your jam, you’re welcome to hop onto the next one. Be on the lookout for what’s coming next Monday!
Staying Accountable – Angie