How to Take Backlit Photos!

Hi ya’ll! Many of you have asked how to take backlit photos. Knowing the right metering mode and getting the right exposure for a backlit image can totally be tricky so knowing the best metering mode is so so important! Your dSLR has 5 different metering modes available for you (Auto, Manual, Aperture priority, Shutter Priority, and Program.) When I’m shooting (especially backlit subjects) I love to have total control over my settings so I always choose manual! This way I know how my camera will expose!

If you’re like me and live for the gorgeous sunset shots getting the right exposure really makes all the difference! When your camera is in “Auto” mode, the meter will read an over all exposure. Technically speaking, it is correct but isn’t always the look you’re going for. With a bright sky in the background your subject will fall into a dark silhouette and lose all detail in the foreground. Switching your metering mode to “Manual” is going to give you the most control and you can adjust your shutter speed and aperture to achieve the lighting you desire. Similar when you’re taking photos on your smart phone; metering on your phone you set the focus on the darkest area of the photo. This is the same idea you want to consider while using your dSLR!

When your camera is in manual mode, to get an accurate exposure reading, fill the frame with your subject. You will want to make sure you are getting a reading of the light falling on the subject rather than the entire scene. Fill the frame by either walking in towards the subject or zooming in and as you adjust your shutter speed and f-stops, you’ll have an accurate reading when the meter in your viewfinder is set to zero.  (Aka when the dot in the middle of the meter is centered!) You can also achieve this by using aperture or shutter priority but manual is always going to give you more freedom to control your settings. If you feel more comfortable with these modes, use the same steps as above and hold the AEL (auto exposure lock) button so your settings don’t change as you recompose your image!

You guys, backlighting is one of my absolute favorite ways to light my couples! The glow created by the sun as a backlight feels like magic! If you’re just starting out and your images are coming out muddy or have soft focus, don’t give up. Once you have mastered how to meter for a backlit subject you’ll create some seriously beautiful images!

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Jana Williams

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