Backlighting Photo Tips | Lessons with the Lees

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I am Neyssa Lee a mother of six, who is planning obsessed, and uses photography to help you see the beauty in your own family’s chaos. Learn more by heading to my ABOUT ME page.

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Hi, I'm Neyssa

I hope you’re enjoying the Lessons with the Lees, because here’s another one with backlighting photo tips! I know I’ve said this before, but I love backlighting. It adds so much drama and interest to a photo. In a previous Lesson with the Lees, I talked about backlighting, but focused on shooting indoors. Now I want you to take your camera outdoors and try a few backlighting shots!
September is the perfect time of year to practice these types of shots. The fall colors are starting to show, the sun is still beautiful, but sunset isn’t so late that you can’t take the kids to capture them with backlighting.

There are so many fun ways to use the sun to create beautiful and powerful backlit shots. Take the photo of Sawyer below. She was swinging and just loving it, but I loved how the sun was shining behind her and how her little feet hung from the baby swing. See how that sunlight just makes the image that much more interesting!

Then a few months ago, a friend and I stopped by this field full of dandelions. The sun was setting and it was perfect for a few fun shots of the kids. I just love how the background is bright and Miss E is lit by the sun. You can even see the sun flare in the lower part of the photo, adding even more dimension!To give you a quick comparison, this next photo was taken in the same field but I’m facing the sun. The colors are rich here, but the image is not nearly as beautiful and exciting as the backlit images shown above!
For our lesson, I’m going to use an image from a recent one year old’s session. Her mom had this rocking chair from when she was a child and it was just perfect for this little girl to sit in. When mom told me about using the rocking chair, I knew that a backlit field would be the perfect location.

SET UP: I chose a large field I knew would be vacant during our shoot. I made sure the session was in the evening so that the sun would be lower in the sky. I wanted the sunlight to stream across the field and then touch my subject. Doing the shoot at noon would’ve meant high sun and dark, harsh shadows if I had used the same set up! I placed the chair so that Miss I would be facing away from the sun. (Please note that since she’s so little, I also have mom standing nearby in case she decides to jump out of the chair!)

CAMERA SETTINGS: Whenever you are trying to capture your subject with the sun behind them, you want to make sure you meter on their face. That way, you properly expose your subject instead of the background (which would leave them dark)! Since it is still very light out, I set my ISO to 100. I wanted a nice blur to the background, so I set my aperture to f/2.8. Finally, I set my shutter speed to 1/640 to help freeze this quick moving baby girl!

EXTRA TIPS: When the sun is behind your subject, trying changing your angle to allow more or less of the sunlight in. You can add or reduce haze which can add interest to the photo.

Now it’s your turn! Use the last few weeks of summer to capture some beautiful backlit photos. I would love to see what you capture on my facebook page! Who knows, one of these times, I may offer a free mini session to the fan favorite!



P.S. Are you getting excited for my big news? Next week there will be so much exciting news! A new adventure for me that people have been asking for for a while now. Plus, mini session information is coming soon. What do you think about fall/pumpkin themed sessions in October and Holiday Minis in November?!

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