Backlight

An old rule in photography says that the photographer should always stand with his/her back to the sun when taking a photograph. Should you never take a photograph against the sun? The answer is – “Yes, however, you should…”. On the one hand, backlit situations offer a wealth of interesting subjects and different and creative opportunity. On the other hand, problems can arise when trying to achieve the correct exposure and image interference can occur (reduction in contrast, lens flare…).

Problems with backlighting

Lens flares

  • There are many small round or hexagonal flecks of colour in the image; these are colourful image formations of the lens that are created by internal reflexion of the lens barrel. Bild entstehen viele kleine runde oder sechseckige Farbflecken, das sind farbliche Abbildungen der Blende, die durch Reflexionen innerhalb des Objektivtubus entstehen. A lens hood prevents/reduces this effect. Trees, houses or other objects can have the same effect as a lens hoods if you are standing in their shadow with the camera. Sometimes clouds can be used to achieve this effect – wait until the clouds move in front of the sun and block the sun.

Photos are too dark

  • Subjects captured in backlighting are often underexposed by the camera’s automatic setting. To counteract this, exposure compensation is usually required, e.g. optical brighteners or a fill flash.
  • Undesired silhouettes appear

Stray light

  • If the light source shines directly at the front lens of the lens, the dispersion of light can greatly reduce the contrast in light. Leuchtet die Lichtquelle bei der Aufnahme direkt auf die Fronlinse des Objektivs kann durch die Streuung des Lichts der Kontrast im Bild stark reduziert werden. In this case, the colours are muted and the image appears flat.
  • If this effect is not intentional, using a lens hood or an object to shade the front lens can be useful.


Creative possibilities in backlighting situations

  • Create silhouettes
  • Light fringes
  • Transparent or semi-transparent subjects light up which allows their structures to be highlighted and emphasised (leaves in the area of macro photography).

More information about backlight and example images can be found in Photo tip – “Use the backlight!”

 
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