Shooting into the light is my favorite. I receive emails all the time from people asking what the trick is to backlighting. Most often people say their images are dark or they can’t focus into the light, don’t know how to find the light or have no clue how to position their subject. While this takes lots of practice & requires different settings/set ups for different lighting situations, here are some general tips. I hope this helps some of you!
8 Tips for Backlighting
1. Spot Meter.
It is necessary in order to illuminate your subject. If you meter in another mode your subject will be too dark.
Don’t trust your meter when shooting into light. You will need to overexpose the meter to get proper exposure (unless you are going for a dark, dramatic, silhouette type feel). Keep an eye on your highlights & the details in your image…you don’t want to over do it because lost detail is hard to get back during processing.
3. Lens hood.
Use it! It will help your camera focus when shooting into the light. If you don’t have one, you can cup your hand around your lens to shield out some of the light & grab focus easier.
Watch the light around you all day everyday. Think about how it falls when indoor & where/what times the light would be nice for portraits. Obviously if you want to achieve backlit images outdoor you will need to stick as close to sunrise/sunset as possible for those golden tones & soft light.
5. Move around.
If you don’t like the look you’re achieving simply move around your subject to change the way the light affects your image: to produce haze or rather to clean up your image. Similarly you can move your subject to achieve the same results. Even just standing up or crouching down in the same spot will give you different results. Play around & see what you like best.
6. White balance.
Try to get it right in camera! I use Kelvin outdoor & usually indoor as well (sometimes I use my expodisc indoor). Generally I begin around 5580 K while shooting an hour or two before sunset. This is just a starting point, then I will assess & tweak if needed. As the sun gets lower & warmer I adjust my kelvin temperature accordingly.
7. Back button focus.
Maybe it’s just me but I think using BBF helps lock in sharper focus. I toggle then use BBF for extra security then press the shutter.
8. Wear white (if possible).
Carrying a reflector is kind of a pain. Editing color casts is also kind of a pain! Take the easy way & reflect some light back on to your subject by wearing white.