Monday, December 14, 2009

Instructor's Tip: Backlit Landscapes

Photo by Russ Burden

I hope you enjoy this week's "Instructor's Tip" by one of my favorite instructors, award winning nature photographer Russ Burden. To learn more about how Russ captured the above image, join him on one of his photo tours. Visit Russ Burden Photography to get more information.


Backlight can impart many looks to a landscape. It can emphasize a strong silhouette, it can rim light a subject giving it a strong outer glow, it can enhance the look of fog or mist, it can create shafts of light highlighting specific portions, and it can provide you with a sun star as the sun ever so slightly peeks from behind a portion of the subject. It presents a unique quality of light that is often overlooked by landscape photographers. It presents challenges, but the rewards are worth the effort. Subjects must be judiciously chosen. The more you realize which ones work, the more you’ll add many dramatic images to your files.

Backlit landscapes are mostly shot early and late in the day when the sun is close to the horizon. Shape and form of the subject become important as most texture and detail is lost when shooting into the sun. But as with all guidelines, there’s an exception. Autumn colored leaves are great to shoot even in the middle of the day. Backlit leaves take on a glow as if a switch was turned on from within each creating a special translucence and powerful image.

Take a class with Russ or a fellow Digital Photo Academy instructor in your area, check out the Digital Photo Academy. I took Russ' intermediate and advanced courses last year, and he continues to be a strong source of knowledge and encouragement as I progress in my photography.

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