Backlighting is the new black. When you’re backlighting your shots, there are a number of issues at play. So this show is dedicated to the delicate art of backlighting. If you want to create awesome shots with great ambience and atmosphere, then backlighting is for you. But there is a risk that you will underexpose the subject and blow out the background. If you want to master the art of backlighting, you need to understand the rules and work them to your advantage.
Gina and Valerie discuss when you want to backlight, how to create great backlight, the best form of natural backlighting, how to deal with different skin tones and hair colour when using backlighting and much more.
(Thanks Sean Kelly!)
Reflections of The Past is an award-winning photo series by commercial advertising photographer Tom Hussey. The photographs show an elderly person looking pensively at the reflection of his/her younger self in the mirror. Hussey was inspired by a World War II veteran who said “I can’t believe I’m going to be 80. I feel like I just came back from the war. I look in the mirror and I see this old guy.”
Lessons from Gina’s photoshoots this week (in this episode)
From Amanda @furryheartsphotography
Good morning Gina,
I’m a new listener to your podcast after Andrew at photobizx recommended it and omg I am loving you and Val, you ladies are great. I’ve been doing the binge listening thing and have noticed you mentioning many times your current/recent love affair with backlighting.
I do pet photography (relative newbie) and I too love backlighting the animals I shoot and I would love to get better and experiment further with backlighting. So I’m just wondering if there is a backlighting podcast episode in your future?
That’s inspired this episode on backlighting
What is backlighting?
- Main light is behind the model or product
- Natural light from the sun shot early morning, late afternoon for soft backlight
- Between 11-4 for brighter harder backlight
- Expose for the background to give a silhouette
- Expose for the skin tone to blow out the background
- Add fill light to create something in between
- Include sun in shot at high aperture 11-22 to create starburst
- Use a dark background like trees, buildings and hide the sun to just create a nice rim light
- Use a bare flash head in background to add some bling to a shot
- If some sun hits the lens you will also get lens flare which can also give the shot an arty vibe
Why use backlighting?
- Full sun on the face looks caca
- Open shade can be too flat
- No separation from background especially if your model has very dark hair against a dark background.
- Not all images need to be perfectly lit.
- Gives a dreamy romantic or arty vibe
- Very flattering
How to meter in backlighting
- Spot definition
- Go right up to the person to fill the frame with their face and then meter
- Expose for highlights if you want detail in highlights otherwise it can look a bit harsh
Best lighting conditions
- Dark areas avoid open sky
- Trees or buildings
- Night sky
Make your own backlight
- Sometimes I combine hairlight with daylight
- Light coloured hair blows out very easily ½ stop over to avoid blown out harsh highlights
- Try and have bright open area behind you or use a reflector or tiny amount of fill flash to create a catch light in the eyes otherwise you end up with shark eyes and portrait looks dull.
- Try and avoid shooting into open blue sky
- Do 2 exposures
- Comp in a new sky
- Dark backgrounds like trees or buildings look great
- Crop the sun out of the shot otherwise you end up with a white hole
- Look for filtered backlight so it’s not as harsh or difference between backlight and subjects face is not too great otherwise you end up with a hot mess
- Filter the backlight using a scrim
- Product/food/drinks can be shot very simply with backlighting from a window filled in using foil as fill