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Backlighting Pt. 1

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When we start out with photography we’re told to put the sun behind us over our shoulder to make sure there’s plenty of light. But some of the most interesting images do the complete opposite and have the light coming towards the camera.

It doesn’t really matter what the light source is. Provided it's appropriate for your subject, a window, desk lamp or the sun will all work fine. The important thing is the direction the light is travelling in. When it’s coming back towards the camera it’s called backlight.

When you have the light behind you it fills in all the little shadowy nooks and crannies of whatever it is you’re photographing which loses texture and makes the photo look dull.

Look at these two shots of some rope for example. The top one was taken with the sun behind me and though there’s nothing wrong with it, it’s not very interesting. Walk round the other side and take a photo of the same ropes and all those shadows coming towards the camera make it look more ‘Ropey’ and interesting. The backlight has made shadows and the shadows are what make the image more intriguing.

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commasopen commascloseI thoroughly loved your 7 Blocks of Photography course. It is so engaging and inspiring to get my brilliant brain working and thinking. I'm forever checking out how light, shadows, etc. fall on the landscape, even when I'm not with my camera!
- Zoe Norman -
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