Pictures taken by Jeremy block
Budding photographers learn from the start that front-lighting their subjects usually rewards them with safe and satisfactory exposures. The problem is, it’s not very creative, and it tends to flatten the subject, voiding any textural interest.
Safe and satisfactory is just not good enough; we want the “wow” factor. One way of defeating the hardness of direct sunlight is to backlight the subject.
Light coming from behind the subject can help to create more interesting visual and graphic effects. Backlighting produces strong separation between subject and background by creating a rim of light or ‘halo’ effect around the subject. Use this type of lighting to emphasize the shapes of subjects.
Backlight also is best for capturing the translucent quality of flower petals and foliage, such as colourful autumn leaves. And backlight can be used to silhouette a subject, producing images with strong graphic qualities.
When utilizing backlight, beware of sunlight striking the front of the lens. Use a tens hood or the shadow from your hand to shield the front element of the lens from direct rays of the sun. This prevents unwanted haze and lens flare in the photograph.
Because backlighting can trick the camera light meter’s exposure settings, it’s a good idea to bracket exposures to ensure properly exposed highlights and shadows. Exposure compensation settings also allow you to override the meter and lighten or darken
the scene to suit your vision. And another way to achieve just the right amount of shadow detail on a backlit subject calls for the use of flash or a small solar reflector focusing light on the front of it.
If a silhouette effect is desirable, no shadow detail is necessary.