Usually, while shooting outdoors, photographers tend to shoot with the sun at their backs. However, the backlighting technique is just the opposite. Shooting against the sun can be quite challenging. Done right, backlight can add a dreamy halo to the portraits and make translucent objects like ice or glass look more lively.
Backlighting lends a dramatic touch to the photos. This technique makes the photographs strong and separates the subject from the background.
Let’s take a look at some of the most effective techniques to make the backlighting method work for your photos.
Place the Sun Strategically in the Frame
Positioning the sun in the frame is one of the critical aspects of getting your backlit photos right. This is because it affects the exposure significantly. There are three primary options for you to choose from. For example, you can either place the sun right behind the subject, outside the frame or in the actual shot.
The idea is to block as much light as you can to keep the images from getting hazy due to an excessive amount of light. So it is wise to position the sun either outside the frame or partly behind the subject. Keeping the majority of the sun blocked will help in adding golden outlines to the subjects.
You can also consider filtering the sunlight through leaves, branches of trees, tall grass etc. This can help you cut back on the haze.
Use the Right Camera Settings
You would need to understand the camera settings to be able to capture good quality photos with the backlighting method. Using the manual mode is wise since there can be various kinds of backlight situations that you would need to make the most of. Shooting with a wide aperture can provide a characteristic lens flare and lend a shallow depth of field to the photos.
Keep in mind that the image should be overexposed. This will ensure that the subject does not end up looking dark. Selecting a wide aperture will be wise. You can select the best shutter speed by using spot metering. Another method would be to take a photograph in auto settings to identify the parameters that do not seem right and make the changes accordingly.
Using the flash for backlit photos can be a little tricky. However, flash can help in balancing out the backlight. Additionally, keeping the ISO setting as low as possible is highly recommended. A sturdy tripod will ensure that the photos are sharp.
Keep the Open Sky Behind You
For shooting stunning backlit photos, you need to keep the source of light behind your subject. But to make sure that your subject does not look dark and hazy, you should position yourself in a way so that the open sky is behind you. This will allow enough light to fall on the subject and would light the subject up well.
That being said, your subject should not be positioned in a way that places the open sky behind him/her. This will distort the entire picture when you carry out the edits in post-processing.
Choose the Right Time of the Day
There is hardly any doubt about the fact that the ‘golden hour’ is the best time to shoot outdoor photos. In other words, the early morning or the late afternoon lights lend a glow to the landscape and the subject. At these times, the sun is lower in the sky and, therefore, makes the light softer. Placing the subject in a way that puts the sun directly behind him/her will produce a rim light behind the subjects that will help in illuminating his/her face, thus solving the exposure problem.
Keep the Foreground Interesting
Since you are quite likely to shoot with a wide aperture, it is wise to keep the foreground of the image interesting. You can consider including foliage to make the foreground blend well with the natural look of the image. You can also use other props for a more dramatic effect. It is recommended to add a soft layering effect to the image to add appeal and depth to the image.
Before you start using the backlighting method, it is important to polish your photography skills. For this, you can consider joining photography classes or workshops. If you live in Abu Dhabi, photo workshops in Abu Dhabi will provide all the necessary resources for this purpose.