On Backlight

In Lighting
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I’ll admit it straight out. Now that spring (and heading toward summer) is finally here, that warm, golden, long-lasting sunshine has drawn my camera lens like an enormous magnet. This has, by its sheer nature, led me to almost exclusively backlighting everything that I have been shooting. Backlighting, at its most simple, is when your subject is illuminated from behind. This can result in all sorts of interesting – some good, some less good – tricks of the light.

You can get some amazing rim light creating a kind of halo effect on your subject. This is something I love to try to get. The more you can get rim light, but still have the subject placed within a darker background, the more effective this becomes.

Lens flare starts to make itself (very) known. This is one of those things that is definitely a matter of taste. Do you like it in the first place? Tastefully sprinkled? Dominating the entire scene? And different lenses definitely handle this differently. The lens I shoot with most often, my Sigma ART 35mm is not great with the flare. It’s often these green floating bits that aren’t super pretty. Other lenses totally rock all sorts of rainbows and perfect little artifacts just where you want them.

You can completely blow out your skies, and other parts of your image. There’s definitely a danger of losing a lot of the background of your image and still having a pretty dark subject. You can also lose bits of your subject too, if those highlights start to blow out. At that point it’s a matter of what you’re trying to achieve with your image. Sometimes you do what you can to salvage that image anyway because your little one is all of a sudden looking like the kid he’s on his way to becoming – oh, those mom goggles!

And then, you can go all the way and expose for your skies, your backlight, and let your subject fall into darkness to create a silhouette. It’s not something I do a ton (though I should probably practice more!), but the aquariums at our local zoo make me do it every time we’re there. Truly, every time.

Backlight. I should probably do a bit of branching out, but when you can get such diversity with all the different ways you can use backlight, maybe I’ll just stay here for a while 😉 Do you have a favorite way of using backlight? Maybe it’s your go-to light or maybe it’s been a while since you’ve tried it. I’d love to hear about it!

All the best,


  1. I really love how close you get in those plant photographs. Incredible! I can stare at that second one for a long time 🙂 Gorgeous!

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