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Photo by Scott Bourne
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My advice for beginning photography students is to always shoot with the sun at their backs. This usually assures good light on the subject. But once you’ve mastered the basics, it’s time to move on to something more challenging and creative. Enter backlit photos.
The picture above was made with my trusty Canon G9 – in it’s highest quality JPEG mode – (since I was shooting for the Web, no need to make a RAW image. This is one of the few times I won’t shoot RAW.)
The exposure was 1/1250th of a second at f6.3. The focal length was 16mm (about 70mm EFL) and the ISO was 200.
The background was busy. There was a strongly patterned brick wall surrounded by trees and a fence. But thanks to the magic of backlighting, the ugly background went away and photographed black. Sometimes limited dynamic range is your friend.
I put the camera at a level that matched the height of one of the many fountains in San Francisco’s Yerba Buena Park. I wanted a fast shutter speed so I shot at f/6.3 to force a faster shutter speed.
The fast shutter speed froze the water in place, and the beautiful backlight helped to isolate the water drops and the position of the water in a nice pattern.
So don’t be afraid of backlit subjects. It takes practice to know what to expect, but the results can be rewarding.