How to use backlights for an effective feel of the photograph?

Back lighting is something which gives us the feel of mood and glow in the photos. In particular, the back light with a feel of rim at the edge of the subject truly brings the third dimension of the subject. The translucent subjects reveal fantastic texture details in the backlight scenes. Landscapes looks refreshing with a good backlight

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The following tips may help you to shoot nice backlight shots.

  1. Choose to shoot in early mornings and late evenings for an effective back light.
  1. Use mist, smoke, stream, dust and extra humidity for an effective visual of backlight._MG_4991c
  1. Position the Sun at an oblique angle and let the light pass through the scene towards the camera.
  1. Use good lens hood or light cutters to avoid unwanted glare or flare in the shots. An added glare or flare sometime gives an extra punch to the photo.IMG_0149
  1. Take exposure for the shadows and underexpose for about a stop or more for a better details of highlights.
  1. Use gentle fill in flash for people shots to get the details of the shadow areas.IMG_0096c
  1. Be careful about Auto focus. Most of the entry level DSLR cameras may not be able to autofocus the scene that easily. If you are comfortable and the subject is fairly not moving fast, then you can try manual focus.
  1. A shift in the white balance towards amber will be good for day light shots.
  1. A landscape shot with the feel of shafts of light using back light will be looking fresh and energetic.                          _MG_0211c
  1. Add an extra contrast in the picture style setting or while working in the digital darkroom.
  1. The punch of steam or smoke will be appetizing while using a gentle back light.
  1. Use a gentle rim or back light for all the portraits and people shots to enhance the texture of hair and skin textures._C1A6700
  1. A bright back light where the exposure is settled for highlights, results in a beautiful silhouette.
  1. A back light shot of a food setup and transparent products are definitely appetizing.IMG_3842s

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How to try easy silhouettes?

Indian cormorant

Indian cormorant, Munnar

  1. Find subjects with strong and definite shapes
  2. Use bright backlight eg. sun set or sun rise
  3. Choose to use spot metering or partial  metering and take the exposure reading from the background in case of sunrise, the bright sky or clouds
  4. Under expose the shot by one or two stops exposure for brilliant and strong colours.
  5. Focus on the subject carefully and let the edge of the shape is really sharp

    St. Augustine Church

    Ruins of St. Augustine Church, Goa

  6. Include some interesting foreground elements like shapely trees/buildings and let it get in the sky area of the shot.
  7. Try waiting for few birds or other activities as a part of the sky. This will avoid the emptiness and make the sky interesting

    Brihadeeshwarar temple Tanjavur Peria Koil

    Brihadeeshwarar temple, Tanjore

  8. If it is a twilight shot consider using a stable tripod to avoid camera shake.
  9. Avoid including moving objects while shooting in dawn. Birds in flight give a kind of blurry patches
  10. Consider off-shooting colours by shifting the white balance intentionally in to warm of cold feel. You can shoot using shade white balance and move the cursor in the white balance shift to amber side for warm silhouettes. Choosing to shoot in tungsten and move the cursor in the white balance shift to blue side for colder silhouettes.
  11. Shoot in RAW for better image variations through Camera Raw correction software.

    Shore temple - Mahabalipuram

    Shore temple, Mahabalipuram

for more examples of silhouettes click