Backlit photography: A tutorial of sorts.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Last night, I was working in the sunroom just an hour or so before sunset when Shawn and Liam passed by the window. The light caught their hair and silhouettes so beautifully that I put down what I was doing, grabbed the camera, and headed outside. 
Backlit, glowy photos are some of my favorites (I'm sure you can tell if you've been reading the blog for any length of time). While I'm a mostly self-taught photographer and don't know all the terminology, I want to try to give a few tips if you like this look and want to try it out yourself!

My first tip: Timing is key. The lighting for these types of photos is best very early in the morning just after the sun rises, or later in the day about an hour before the sun sets. This obviously changes a lot from season to season, and as it's getting closer to summer, that time becomes earlier (on the front end) and later (at the end of the day). If you're scheduling a shoot, it's a good idea to look online to see when the sun is predicted to set that day - and plan to start about an hour and a half before it does.
Your subjects' position in relation to the sun is also really important. Make sure they aren't facing the sun or you'll get really washed out, squinty subjects, flat backgrounds, and no "glow." If the sun is behind your subjects when it's setting, you'll get this glowy look. Also, I always shoot in manual mode - not automatic - and if you're pursuing photography, you'll need to do the same at some point! Playing with the aperture, ISO, and other settings is another topic for another day - but I really think if you're just starting out with manual mode, this time of day and backlit subjects is really great practice.

I love having a little sun flare in the photos, but sometimes it gets to be too much. Like this: 

 When you first upload these photos into your computer and see them on a bigger screen, don't be worried if some of them look either too dark or too washed out. Those are both pretty easy things to fix. 

I hope that gives you some good ideas. If you'd like to add some tips to the conversation, feel free to comment!


  1. Great pictures and tips.
    I'm going to show this to my sister, or our future shoots.
    Thanks for sharing!


  2. Great photos! What was your aperture/shutter speed?

    Greetings from Switzerland!

  3. This is a great post!! Love the ideas and tips. Beautiful photos, you are inspiring!

  4. I loved your tips, thanks! You always take beautiful pictures. -Courtney

  5. Great timing.... I bought my first 'real' camera yesterday. A Canon EOS 600D, can't wait to start playing with it. Thanks!

  6. Beautiful pictures, no matter what was the timing or exposure... you've got fairy lights in the last picture - so cute :)

  7. Thanks for the tips...but I really cudnt concentrate on ur writing with Liam smiling in the pics..! Seriously..I love him too much..He brings me so much joy every time I see him..I wonder what he does to u n Shawn.
    God Bless...N touch wood.


  8. Thank you so much for this. Have been experimenting lately. This helps big time! :)

  9. Thank you so much for this. Have been experimenting lately. This helps big time! :)

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