Insight Creative » Townsville Photography Studio offering Portrait, Wedding and Commercial Photography and Photo Workshops

Townsville Photography Course – Backlit Photo workshop

Last week we had a small group of ladies come to our studio to learn the art of backlit portrait photography (photo workshop 2). It is always great catching up with people that have bright and enthusiastic views about photography, their excitement rubs off and reminds me how lucky I am to do what I love as a job.

We started in the studio discussing the tips, tricks and challenges of how to expose correctly.

Once we ran through the technical sit down stuff we had a play in the studio using the window as our ‘back light’ and filling the front of the subject with light reflected off foam boards (my favourite studio tool). I wanted everyone to get a feeling for how different the exposure is from face to the background and how to manage these differences.

Enough practice, it was now time to test what we had been talking about so we headed to our favourite grassy location. We explored shooting under slightly varying conditions with models standing out in full sun, then partial sun (sunlight slightly blocked by tree), also using the model to block the full strength of the sun (shooting low to the ground) and the list goes on… To really master backlit you need to explore all options and see the strengths and weaknesses of each setup. Exposure is the hardest part with backlighting. The sun is moving quickly toward the horizon line so you have to keep changing the exposure every few minutes, combined with positioning the models and composing the image – all these elements mixed together can be very challenging.

I have included an example of a photograph straight out of the camera and then the ‘after’ shot that has been worked in Lightroom. We shoot in ‘raw’ which allows for more latitude in making changes to the file without loosing too much quality. When shooting in raw the photos come out looking very flat because the camera hasn’t added any ‘effects’ (sharpening, contrast, saturation) to it. Here are the basic Lightroom steps to achieve the ‘final’ image: Increase contrast, increase black, add yellow (colour looked blue, so opposite to blue is yellow on the colour wheel). That is it, keep it simple and know when to stop.

We have another photography course (full day course) coming up in September which still has places left, for more info visit our photoworkshop pages on our website.

Special thanks for our fantastic models for the day!

If you have any questions about lightroom or shooting, just post them below and I’ll do my best to answer them:)



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  • October 29, 2012 - 9:41 pm

    Rachell - God I love your backlit shots and try so hard to achieve the same look but feel I overdo the processing and end up with grainy skin or too much overexposed background. I am assuming it really is a balance of light and land to achieve a natural look to it also? I am also assuming that you spot meter on the skin of your subject to achieve the best exposure of them? Would love to know more.

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