TYPES OF BACK LIGHTING

 

Just like any other lighting scenario, back lighting has it’s quirks and can give you completely different looks depending on how you control it. Below are a few of the different looks that tend utilize the most.

SOFT LIGHT

Shooting back lit in soft light tends to deliver a calmer, more intimate image. If you are just looking for that simple soft light, wait until the sun is just below the horizon or hidden by something else (trees, mountains, buildings, etc.) and shoot with your subject completely in the shade. That will give you a soft luminous light that envelops your subject.

  5D III + 50L In this image of Brianna I wanted to bring out a soft golden glow so I shot her when the sun was just barely peaking over the mountains behind her. When the sun is just about to pass below the horizon you are left with a soft wash of light that can bring out a more peaceful tone in your images than you might see if the sun is higher in the sky and putting direct light onto the back of your subject. More from this shoot here!

 

5D III + 50L
In this image of Brianna I wanted to bring out a soft golden glow so I shot her when the sun was just barely peaking over the mountains behind her. When the sun is just about to pass below the horizon you are left with a soft wash of light that can bring out a more peaceful tone in your images than you might see if the sun is higher in the sky and putting direct light onto the back of your subject. More from this shoot here!

HAZE

Haze is one of the more versatile looks you can use with back lighting as you can manipulate it to bring out a soft summer glow in a lifestyle image, or you can make it a bit stronger for a completely different look that might fit a harder editorial. If you are looking for a soft hazy glow to come across your image, shoot when the sun is still in the sky (not hidden by mountains or under the horizon), and have the sun hidden just outside of the frame. This will allow some of the stray light to sneak into the side of your frame leaving a soft wash of light and color across your frame. If you are looking for a harsher haze with more flares and light artifacts, allow the sun to shine directly into your lens (longer lenses work best for this) and you will find a haze that has a bit more substance to it.

  5D III + 35L When I set up this shoot I wanted to play with the balance between the softness of the lace and the harder look of the model. Using a hazy back light with the sun just outside of the frame allowed me to mimic that sentiment by having the a softer haze come across the image while still having the sun place a hard rim light on her to define her silhouette.

 

5D III + 35L
When I set up this shoot I wanted to play with the balance between the softness of the lace and the harder look of the model. Using a hazy back light with the sun just outside of the frame allowed me to mimic that sentiment by having the a softer haze come across the image while still having the sun place a hard rim light on her to define her silhouette.

  5D II + 85L II Holy lens flare! Longer lenses and direct light coming into the lens  tends to create a much more dramatic haze that takes over the image. When the sunlight bounces around on the glass in your lens it also creates the random light and color washes you see here. Shooting like this will take a bit of practice to tune it how you like but once you get it, it is a blast to play with.

 

5D II + 85L II
Holy lens flare! Longer lenses and direct light coming into the lens  tends to create a much more dramatic haze that takes over the image. When the sunlight bounces around on the glass in your lens it also creates the random light and color washes you see here. Shooting like this will take a bit of practice to tune it how you like but once you get it, it is a blast to play with.

RAYS

Having streaks of light coming into your frame is a great way to add dynamic energy into your image. To create rays in your frame, your best bet is to shoot with a wider lens which will stretch the light a bit and leave it streaking across the frame. Instead of hiding the sun just outside of the frame or behind something in the frame, allow it to peek in. Whether it is peeking out from behind something in the image, or peeking in from the outside of the frame, make sure that there is a little sliver of direct sunlight hitting your lens. This little sliver is what will create your rays. Also, the more you stop down your aperture, the more defined your rays will become.

  5D II + 35L To create a bit of energy and movement into the frame (which matches and emphasizes the mood from my couple), I shoot with the sun just peaking over the lens hood into the frame. That introduced the streaks of light you can see coming in from the top left corner of the image.

 

5D II + 35L
To create a bit of energy and movement into the frame (which matches and emphasizes the mood from my couple), I shoot with the sun just peaking over the lens hood into the frame. That introduced the streaks of light you can see coming in from the top left corner of the image.