Stretching Myself with Backlighting

Stretching Myself with Backlighting

Moments That Matter: lesson 4: topic 3: backlighting

Switching to manual was harder than I thought, so much to think of and suspect I’m still fumbling some.
First tried to shoot with the afternoon light, disaster, it was nearly 5pm and overcast and nothing but dark pics in manual, in aperture setting the pictures were visible but no backlighting effect.

Then I tried early morning light with a much better result but first had to try alot of experiementing before I began getting the result.
Took a fw at 6,30am, our first sunny day after 2 days of overcast weather, the light spots (like in your demonstration pics) fell on and in front of one son, couldn’t work out how to get them to fall behind.
Took some of another son and totally dark but then he was wearing a dark jumper, was a bit taller and blocking the sun from where I was crouching.
Tried a third son by this stage it was nearly 7.30am, better results but he kept moving so looked grainy mostly.
Luckily the girls proved to be more photogenic. I was wearing white pajamas so reflected some light back onto the girls and managed to get some catchlights in eyes

Image 1 – iso 200 – shutter 1/500 ap 3.26
These two pics with Genevieve were taken just after 8am. Lovely backdrop, no distractions, nice smile, would have liked her eyes to have been slightly wider, but did get some catchlights on there, halo effect on hair

Image 2 – iso 200 – shutter 1/500 ap 3.26
Same positives and negatives with this image as no 1 – slight difference but can’t quite pinpoint it, at first I thought I like this photo better but for some reason the first image has a slight more impact, can’t tell why though

Image 3 – iso 800 – shutter 1/500 ap 3.26
These two pics were taken closer to 7am so had the iso on higher, Siena was on the move, not too fast but I had to be quick
Just love her eyelashes, soft skin, curls. The light behind and in front.
I cropped out some side distractions which does make the shape of the pic slightly odd. Would I be better leaving them in?

Image 4 – iso 800 – shutter 1/500 ap 3.26
Love this one too for the same reasons, the eyelashes, the skin, though possibly slightly overexposed?
caught catchlights reflecting back off my white pajamas and had that backlight effect so was happy.
did some slight cropping to the distractions to the side too. Tried to eliminate as much as possible when taking but as she kept moving was tricky

Overall I found this assignment a big step up, but yet with the photos that ‘got it’ I can see the beauty of the light, the difference it makes

backlighitng-1 backlighting-2 backlighting-3 backlighting-4

By Erin
Erin, married to my Prince Charming, mum of 10, wannabe photographer. Living on a property on the North Coast of NSW.


  1. Nice job with a tough assignment Erin. You have gorgeous rim lighting around the hair and some nice catchlights (the white pajamas were a great idea).
    Backlighting takes some practice to perfect. I hope you keep at it because the results when you really nail it are amazing. You’ve come close with these but you need to get the exposure a little better on the faces. The first two the faces are a tad underexposed. The third one is really close and the last is a bit overexposed. Are you using spot metering and making sure you meter on the face? If not I’d advise having another try. If you are then I’d also advise having another go 🙂 Practice, practice, practice!

    • Oh good to hear I was nearly close.
      Do you think with the first two I should of had iso at 400?
      was happy with the third:)
      I had multi spot on, should I have it set to another setting. To be honest I never really got the hang of metering on the face.
      will try again tomorrow, rather enjoyed the early morning light, though the kids grumbled;)

  2. To answer your question re ISO – I don’t think so. You seem to have plenty of light, it’s just behind Genevieve so her face is in shadow. You’re settings are good I think. I’d just practice using spot metering (rather than multi) and make sure you are taking your meter reading from her face (which is the part you really want to get right). I think really the best thing you can do is to keep practicing using spot metering ans this is what will give you the best results with backlit subjects.

  3. Robyn
    Went back and played with multi metering, much better result early in the morning.
    Can you remind me exactly how to get metering on face, did we cover this in the metering lesson?

  4. We covered this way back in Lesson 1 – Camera Basics – have a re-read of the metering lesson if you’re not sure. In anutshell – just make sure you are pointing the centre of the lens directly at the face and half press the shutter to lock the exposure on that spot. Then when you’re comfortable with the composition simple press the shutter the rest of the way. Once the shutter is half pressed it remembers that exposure setting and even if you move the camera it still holds it (as long as the shutter is still pressed half way).

  5. Thanks! So much to remember and sometimes I forget the basics trying to master the more difficult

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