Backlit, how to make it even better


In my former blogpost about Backlit photography did I write about what backlit was, and what benefits it brought. This post aims to communicate all the tricks I received from people in order to make backlit shooting even better.


Eliminate Flare

Sun flares is not always evil, but mostly I do prefer high contrast and cleaner images. To avoid them, the most important factor is your and your subject’s position to the sun. Your subject does not have to be directly in front of the sun. Position yourself and subject at about a 45-degree angle to the sun. Your subject will still be backlit, but the sun is not flowing directly into your lens causing a haze. If repositioning is not an option, and you must shoot directly into the sun, you can block flare and haze with an object such as your hand, the subjects head, a building, or trees. If you use bushes or trees, make sure that just enough light is penetrating through giving that soft warm glow behind your subject without having to worry about the haze.


Use a reflector

Reflectors will give you that huge difference in your backlit images. For close-ups always, use a reflector to add fill light to your subject’s face. This will give you beautiful catch-lights in their eyes. It can be a bit tricky especially in windy situations, but the more you use a reflector, the more you will get used to it. Use the white side reflecting on to your subject. Another option is to wear white yourself, that way you will be a reflector yourself when doing close-ups. Another benefit of wearing whites is avoiding that your colourful clothes reflects weirdly in your subjects eyes.


Post Processing

When doing Backlit is post processing essential. In this example, a few simple steps will bring you 80% of the way. In your RAW import, adjust at your White balance, Bring Contrast up, maybe even to max, do drop highlights a little, drop a little clarity to being softness.

Another little trick to do is adding a gradient filter, to create a bit more depth.

Lens hood

Use it! It will help your camera focus when shooting into the light. If you do not have one, use your hand or a cup from Starbucks to shield your lens for out some of the light and grab focus easier.


Try to get it right in the camera

Head out setting your white balance to 5580K while shooting an hour or two before sunset. This is not a given value, you will have to assess and tweak. As the sun gets lower and warmer do adjust your kelvin temperature accordingly. Avoid hot spots, search for uniform back lighting.


It is all about the lens

Some handle flare better than others do. Chose a lens that handles sun without giving to much flare, look for a lens that gives a creamy haze with beautiful crimson hues. Some of the old Minolta lenses does this brilliantly; an example is my 80-200 APO HS f/2.8. Despite it being a lens produced some 29 years ago, it offers unmatched bokeh.


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