Using Backlighting in Photography to Highlight Subjects

Layne Kennedy
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Duration:   6  mins

Backlight in photography has some challenges, but with a little preparation you can take advantage of this wonderful enveloping light that will highlight your image. In this session, you’ll learn how to isolate your subject, remove flare, bring in detail, and capture gorgeous angles that emphasize rich, vibrant color.

Lighting plays a vital role in perfecting your spring photography images. The vibrant colors of flowers, plants, trees, and other refreshing signs of spring really come through when you use light to your best possible advantage. In this session, photographer Layne Kennedy illustrates how to use backlighting in photography to highlight your subject.

Early spring is a perfect time to shoot with morning backlight grazing perfect spring flowers that show no signs of wilting, burning, or leafing out. Layne shows you how to utilize backlight by searching for just the right flower. When you find that rich bloom that looks gorgeous amid its surroundings, you can isolate it, taking advantage of the luminescent backlight that envelops the flower from behind.

While backlight presents opportunities for incredibly vibrant shots, it has its challenges. In this session, Layne shows how with backlighting in photography, you’re almost shooting right into the sun; even with a lens shade, he still uses his hand to gently nudge away any flare that could ruin his photo. The result is rich backlight through which the freshness of spring really comes through.

Tight Focus Highlights Beauty

Another consideration for backlight is what lens to use, Layne says, noting that a wide-angle lens spreads the color out more than he wants. The idea is to compress the color, so he picks up a 300mm lens and zooms in to isolate that particular flower mentioned earlier, shooting with a shallow depth of field to keep one or two flowers sharp so your eyes will focus on those blooms.

The session also explains how to use reflectors to add a little extra bounce light to backlit flowers, thus bringing in more detail to the petals; another tip addresses shooting from a different perspective, such as getting down low and shooting into the backlit flowers at an upward angle. These are just two ways that backlighting in photography can enhance your images.


  • Season Photography Preview
  • Considerations in Spring Photography
  • Planning for your Spring Photography Shoot
  • THIS PAGE: Using Backlighting in Photography to Highlight Subjects
  • Nature Macro Photography Tutorial: Capturing Blooms
  • Choosing Wide Angle or Panoramic
  • Considerations in Summer Photography
  • Tips and Techniques for Photographing Crowds
  • Outdoor Portrait Photography Tips
  • Indoor Photography Tips
  • Considerations in Fall Photography
  • Exposure Tips for Photographing Fall Colors
  • Creating Motion
  • Tips on Changing Your Perspective in Photography
  • Considerations in Winter Photography
  • Proper Winter Photography Gear and Equipment
  • Clothing for Winter Weather
  • How to Photograph Snow: The Importance of Exposure
  • Visualizing and Cropping an Image
  • Converting an Image to Black and White

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