Thursday, June 26, 2014


Backlight is one of my favorite types of lighting. It is exactly what it says it is - the light comes from behind the subject. As you can see in this image, backlight provides a rim of light along the edges of the subject, adding a bright accent.

Because the light comes from behind, it is easy to underexpose the front of the subject since it is in shadow. Be sure to check your histogram to make sure you have enough exposure on the front side, while not overexposing the highlights from the backlighting. It is a delicate balance, and often post-optimization software is needed to tone down the highlights and/or bring up some detail in the shadows.

Backlight is easiest to find early and late in the day when the sun is lower in the sky. Once you become more experienced at finding it, you will be able to find it in some places, like at the edges of forested areas, even during the middle of the day

Some added attractive features of this image are the soft circles of light green in the background. They are sunlit out of focus leaves. I was lucky that the bird's head happened to be in front of a darker section of background. When shooting any kind of wildlife, especially birds which move quickly, it is not always possible to have complete control over the background. Shallow depth of field is a great benefit, since it throws the background elements out of focus, especially with long lenses.

When working with backlight, it is imperative that you use a lens hood. In fact I recommend using one in all lighting conditions since it keeps stray light from striking the front of your lens, causing flare or loss of contrast. If your lenses did not come supplied with a lens hood, you can find them easily from online retailers like Hunts Photo and Video. To get the proper hood for your particular lenses, email Alan at   or call him at 781-662-8822, press 1 for sales and ask for Alan. Tell him you are a client of Awake The Light for special treatment.

Shutter Speed 1/200 sec.  Aperture f/8.  ISO 400.  Lens: Canon 200-400mm f/4L IS with 2x extender for an effective focal length of 630mm.  Camera: Canon 5D Mark III.  Gitzo tripod with Really Right Stuff ballhead and Wimberley Sidekick.

TODAY'S QUOTE: "It is not only fine feathers that make fine birds."  --Aesop

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