This week our Project 52 subject is back light. This is a tricky lighting situation for traditional photographs because your subject is usually hidden in shadows. If you want details like a person's correct hair or eye color then back light is not going to make things easy on you. If however, you are looking for more drama in your images, more emotion so to speak, then you should give it a try. You might surprise yourself.
When an outdoor scene is back-lit, the first thing you might notice is that there is a big contrast in light and shadow. The light coming through the leaves of a tree or plant are highlighted and this makes the shaded areas even more dramatic. Your subject will a lot of times be almost completely silhouetted.
In an open scene when the sun is low in the sky, a back-lit photograph often times has a glow around the subject, we call this rim light. Rim light naturally outlines your subject giving more depth to the scene. In the first image, even though it was taken while the sun was still fairly high, you can easily see the rim light on Hermes' face and tail. (You can even see his goatee whiskers.) While light from the front bounces off your subject/scene, back light often shines through. Not only is the light shining through the leaves in this image, but it is also shining through Hermes' ears; if it weren't they would be as dark as his eyes being mostly hidden in shadow.
In this next image, the back lighting gives a more dramatic flair. The morning light is coming from behind the trees creating a path. You can still see that glow around Hermes, and again the light shines through some of the leaves, the grass, and through his ears.
This last image was taken later in the evening and everything fun about back lit images is present. (The stuff that I think is fun anyway) Hermes has wonderful rim light on his entire body, you can see little floating bits in the air that you can't see without back light, and the cherry on top was that I was able to get a slight sun flare through the trees.
There is much more that can be accomplished with back lighting than the few things that I've pointed out here. Some photographer portfolios are filled solely with artful images created in this way to suit their own particular style of photography. If you google "children's photography images" I bet you'll be able to instantly pick out the ones that were back lit. :O)
For those who are wondering what these Project 52 posts are all about . . . A group of pet photographers from around the globe are working from a book by David Duchemin called, The Visual Tool Box - 60 Lessons For Stronger Photographs. Those who don't mind sharing their "homework" are creating blog posts about some of the topics (chapters in the book). We create a blog circle or round robin of sorts so that you can see how each photographer who participates that week interpreted the chapter in their own work. This week you can begin the circle with Susannah at Pet Love Photography, serving Greater Cincinnati and the San Franisco Bay Area.