Backlighting on a poodle dog at York River in Williamsburg VA
Helpful tips, Photo Session

Pet Photo Tip—Try backlighting in your images

I always like to share some tips and tricks to help you improve your own photography, whether you’re simply taking some cell phone shots, or working hard to master that fancy new camera you got for Christmas.

This technique can be a little tricky, but practice is the key to success.  —Thank goodness for the digital age where you can toss the junkers into the virtual trash bin! (It’ll be our secret!)

Below are a few images of my best pal Rugby during a recent day trip to York River State Park on the outskirts of Williamsburg. It’s well worth the trip if you’ve never been there.

Since we arrived very early morning in the morning, I decided to focus on backlighting my guy in most of our images. I placed him with the sunlight curling around from behind him and his adorable poodle curls.

Backlighting is the technique of placing your subject between the camera and the sun. Position your subject so the sun is behind him or her, shooting your trusty camera toward your sun-kissed subject.

Sun > Subject > Camera

The more traditional look in most photos is facing your subject toward the sun with the camera between your subject and the sun.

Subject > Camera > Sun 

Backlighting only works at either end of the day when the sun is low in the sky.

When the sun is more directly overhead, it creates some pretty harsh shadows….which is why my pet portrait sessions are usually held at the crack of dawn or just before sunset. You can’t beat the beauty of images made with the sun low on the horizon.

Give it a try sometime and share your images with me. I’d love to see what you create!

The images below show some different backlighting styles. We used trees, dunes and stairs to filter and soften the light in various ways. Each image has its own unique result.

The image of Rugby jumping over the log includes a “lens flare”, which happens when the sun directly hits the camera lens. This can add interest to your images, but a lens flare can also fall across your subject’s face which isn’t usually a flattering look. You can avoid lens flare by slightly repositioning yourself and shielding your camera’s lens from a direct solar hit.

The image with the bright sky background is a traditional look with our furry subject facing into the sun.

Experiment with backlighting to add variety to your images.

As always, get down on their level. Your images will instantly improve, backlit or not!  🙂

Click on images for full resolution.

You may also like...