backlighting … [workshop wednesday]

For some reason, people keep asking me questions about photography. I’m not sure why. I’m certainly not a photography guru. I know my equipment reasonably well, and I guess you could say I have a reasonable understanding of light, colour and timing, but I can assure you that I still have a lot to learn! Hopefully I will always feel this way … photography as an artform offers endless opportunities to grow 🙂

That said, with so many people wanting to know what I know, and my desire to help people become better photographers, I’m launching “workshop wednesdays” here on the blog. Every Wednesday, I’ll try to post something useful for photographers – amateurs, pros and aspiring pros alike. This will be where I’ll answer your questions, so if there’s anything you’d like to know, go ahead and ask! I don’t believe in keeping secrets 🙂 You can ask me about technique, lighting, post production, equipment … whatever, really! Send in your questions by email, on twitter, or just leave a comment here on the blog 🙂

Our first question comes from Michelle (not the one I’m married to!), who hopefully won’t mind me quoting her 😉

Luke, those awesome shots you do with the sunlight streaming behind the family, not quite flare shots but nearly…..any pointers on how to start doing those? 🙂

Here are a couple of recent photos matching Michelle’s description:

091101_0082.jpg - one fine day photography - newcastle portrait photographer

091101_0366.jpg - one fine day photography - newcastle portrait photographer

As with the vast majority of my photos, these were shot with available light. I do occasionally add flash to backlit photos; it really depends on how well my subjects are lit by the light coming into the photo from behind me. Usually I prefer to find somewhere with nice front light rather than resorting to flash 😉

Obviously for the sun to be in these photos, they need to be taken late in the afternoon (or early in the morning). Available light is most flattering at these times, anyway, which is why I try to arrange my sessions to be nowhere near midday!

When you’re including the sun in the frame (or keeping it just out of frame), there’s a danger your photo will flare out if you’re not careful. Sometimes I like to embrace flare in all of its ethereal glory, but usually I try to block part of the sun with a tree (or even a face) to hold more detail in the shot. Camera placement can be critical to minimising flare, so make sure you have a steady hand!

Finally, and I can’t emphasise this enough, accurate exposure is your friend. If you’re trusting your camera to set your exposure for you, it’s going to be confused by the brightness of the sun, and you’ll end up with very under-exposed subjects. Put your camera in manual mode, expose for the people in your photo, and let the background blow out. Accurate exposure is your friend.

I hope that was helpful! If you liked it and would like to see me keep sharing info on Wednesdays please let me know in the comments!

2 January 2010 - 9.32pm

Denise - Thanks Luke, keep it up please.

1 January 2010 - 3.37pm

Michelle taylor - Whoops, also would be super interested to know what your metering is set on? Spot or Centre weighted? I have been looking at that since you wrote about ‘accurate exposure’! 🙂

1 January 2010 - 1.50pm

Michelle taylor - great idea, keep it going!!! So glad you are willing to share your knowledge. 🙂 I have a ton of questions! Hehe! Here are some less technical ones off the top of my head!
Composition: do you try to perfectly compose each shot, or do you try to capture the moment, and think about cropping (etc) in post processing?

Photo shoot syle: tips on getting clients to ‘warm up’ and be
natural….if they find it hard….do you give them sugestions?

The story of your journey from keen hobbyist to starting up your business- love to hear it!

Fave lens that you keep coming back to for your photog?
(I am saving for 50mm f/1.2)

Post processing- what are your hot tips? Lightroom? Photoshop? do you use actions at all? Any highly recommended?

favorite time of day for shooting?


30 December 2009 - 8.43pm

kerryn - This is great Luke – thank you!

30 December 2009 - 8.09pm

Marcus - Bought Shelley (and me!) a Canon G11. It’s half way between a point-and-shoot and entry level DSLR. Does full manual control and takes lervly pics… however, now that I have had a taste, I’m a bit itchy for more control!

30 December 2009 - 5.59pm

keith varndell - great website and great photos i use nikon d80 and nikon d90 and love thier user freindly nature looking to get a new lens my main use is for potrait wedding and family photos what type would you recommend AF-S NIKKOR 14-24mm f/2.8G ED is what i have been looking for

30 December 2009 - 3.48pm

Wendy - Really good info – please keep running info wednesdays!

30 December 2009 - 12.44pm

Bernadette - Great stuff. Always love a backlit image. So flattering and forgiving 🙂 Keep workshop Wednesday coming! 🙂

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