Silhouettes and Beyond

The second in a short series on backlighting. Yesterday’s post considered silhouettes. Today – Silhouettes and Beyond (or is it Beyond the Silhouette?)

For back lighting, you need a light source behind your subject (duh). For nature photography this normally means sunrise or sunset.

I’m a morning person who enjoys

  • Nature
  • Peace & stillness at sunrise (preferable to sunset IMO)
  • Water
  • and Flora (such as cattails at water’s edge)

And therefore I enjoy images like these. Actually, being there is the main thing; being able to make images like these is just icing on the cake.

Hover mouse over image for camera settings; click for enlarged slide show


These three were all made with a wide-angle lens to take advantage of a wide angle’s ability to keep everything in focus from near to infinity. Manual focus, aperture priority.

  • Note the water drops on the cattail leaves in the left image – less than 2′ from the 14mm (f/16) lens.
  • In the center image I was slightly further away and used 18mm (still f/16 for a hyper-focal-distance, HFD, with a near point of about 3 feet).
  • Even further away in the right image and used 29 mm (but now f/22 to compensate for the longer focal length’s effect on the HFD).
  • In each image I wanted the foreground to be mostly a silhouette – less so the far right image.

For correct exposure, spot meter on the brightest area and fine tune on subsequent shots using exposure compensation adjustments. HFD mandates that you use manual focus. AND – a tripod goes without saying!


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