Low Light Photo Tip for Capturing beautiful Backlight

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I am Neyssa Lee a Seattle area photographer, mom of 6, planning obsessed, and who help you see the beauty, love and joy, in your own family’s chaos. I also use my super power of time management to help fellow photographers take control of their businesses. Learn more by heading to my ABOUT ME page.

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Hi, I'm Neyssa

Today’s lesson is a low light photo tip for capturing beautiful backlight. With the days getting shorter I thought I would do a series of photo tips for low light. I’m a huge fan of natural light. It’s basically the only type of light I shoot in. Yet the other night Derek and Milo were working on Milo’s very first school project. This was a milestone I had to capture, natural light or not.
When Milo proudly showed me his finished project, I noticed how he was beautifully lit from behind, creating a glow around him. It was like the sunlight was pouring in from a window behind him. Except it was pitch black outside! So how did I create such beautiful backlighting? It wasn’t using any fancy studio lights. In fact, I’m sure you all have what I used. A table lamp. Yes, I will say it again. I used a table lamp!

Set Up: Chose an area free from clutter (or do a quick pick up) and turn off all of the overhead lights. Grab a table lamp and set it level to your subject. In this case, it is on the floor since Milo was sitting on the floor. Take off the lampshade. I had one other lamp on that was across the room (lampshade was on) to give me more light, without harsh shadows of the overhead light.

Camera Settings: Turn off your flash and set your camera to Aperture Priority Mode (or AV). Select an ISO of 1600 or higher to allow the most sensitivity to light. Next select an aperture of f/2.0 or lower to allow in more light and help create that blurry background we so very much love! Since you’re in Aperture Priority Mode, your camera will select a shutter speed based on your lighting conditions. Should you be shooting in manual (yay, you!) choose a slower shutter speed to also allow in light, but not too slow that you can only see motion blur!

Compose: Place your subject between the lamp and yourself creating the beautiful backlight. You can play around with shooting vertically or horizontally depending on the moment you are trying to capture. I chose to go horizontally since the project Milo was showing me was also horizontal and to allow the light to fill the left side of the image. You can also try moving your angle to your subject, playing with the amount of light you’re letting into your lens (just like you would if it were the sunshine)!

Low light photo tips for capturing beautiful backlight

ISO 2500, Aperture f/2.0, Shutter Speed 1/100

After you’ve taken the image, like the one above, try changing it to black and white in post processing. Although I still love this image in color to really show off his project, I do love the how much the light shows in the black and white image!


Now it’s your turn. Have some fun with a lamp and these low light photo tips for capturing beautiful backlight.

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