Now for our favourite type of light! We have divided the Pretty Light section up into the three types of Pretty Light and three different lessons and assignments, we love them all equally.

All three types of Pretty Light happen at the same time of day, and will only show up on clear/ish days. You're not going to get Pretty Light on a dreary winter day, but perhaps that's what makes the Winter Pretty Light days all the more amazing... Is the light actually better or is it because it's more rare? We're not sure, but we love it when it shows its face.

Pretty light time is when the sun is low in the sky. In the morning and in the afternoon. Around 7-10am and 5-8pm-ish in summer and 8-11am and 3-5pm-ish in the Winter when you're lucky enough to get a nice day. It makes everything golden, pretty and a bit magic.


Backlight Pretty Light is when the sun (or sometimes some other light source)  is behind your subject. It makes everything glowy and amazing when you get the metering right. It can be a little tricky to get the metering spot on, but when you do it is like magic. We generally meter for the subject when we are backlighting, this will mean that the sky gets blown out (all the detail goes and it turns white) but that's cool, it's more about capturing a feeling, than recording all the details of the scene (and we will show you how to pull the highlights back a little in the editing stage). 

When you are backlighting it's pretty important to put something between you and the sun. Not completely blocking it, but filtering it enough to stop it streaming into the photo and taking over the whole scene. A good thing to use is a tree, because if you get the perfect spot the leaves filter the light just enough that you can get some pretty light flare to show up in the photo. Get into a spot where you can pop the sun just behind the tree and move your camera in tiny increments until the light peeks through in that magical way that we love. Backlight Pretty Light is one of those times when you will probably have to take a bunch of photos to get the perfect shot. There have been times we have taken 30-40 photos to get the perfect Backlight Pretty light shot.

In the above and below photos you can see what we mean by popping the sun behind the trees. The above photo was metered for the washing and the below one was metered for the green grass that the sun is hitting.

In the photo above you can see how sticking a big hairy head in the way of the sun can work to block the light (it doesn't really have to be big and hairy). You'll have to have a patient subject for this one, that puts up with being moved around and you moving in little increments to see how much sun you want to let in, while at the same time adjusting your metering to get it just right. In this photo Kate metered for the beer bottle and Henry's bottom. 

The photo above is a good example of using Backlight Pretty Light inside. It was metered for Maya's face (the cute redhead), around her nose . Had it been metered for the other darker things in the room, the detail of her cute little face and nose would have been blown out. The detail in the curtains has been blown out, but that's no biggy, the photo wasn't about the curtains anyway!


The window photo is a good example that shows that sometimes it doesn't have to be about showing everything in the scene. Sometimes it's more about the mood than the details. Kate could have metered for the sink below and had a photo of the dirty dishes and the outline of the window, with all the outside being blown out into whiteness. But it was more about showing the beautiful glow outside in contrast to the darkness inside, so she metered for the darker golden area of the photo. If she had metered for where the sun itself was, then the photo would have been really dark, with just the spot of the sun in lightness.

Some more pretty backlight examples... Try work out where we exposed for in these ones, the answers will be underneath (just like in those game sections of the newspaper!)


While most of the time when we are using Backlight Pretty Light we are exposing for the subject, sometimes there are moments when creating silhouettes can be pretty amazing. This works especially well when there is lots of movement in the scene and the shapes are all separated. We love how here you can see the motion in the girls as well as the motion in the sea and the people playing with the ball in the background. It can be a really cool way to tell a story. Kate exposed for the golden area on the sea in this shot. 

Homework Time!

Get your camera out nice and early in the morning or later in the afternoon and shoot some backlight pretty light.

This is the one we get a bit art schooly on you about. Rembrandt-ish Pretty Light is a rare beast, but it's a beautiful one and easier to spot once you're aware of it. 

Rembrandt was a famous art dude that used lots of directional light in his paintings. The light only hits a portion of the frame, which draws your eye right to the subject. For example, there's lot's going on in that top left painting, but your eye is drawn straight to that guy in yellow, bathed in that Pretty Rembrandt-ish Light. It's also amazing for accentuating the shapes and giving lots of dimension to the subject. 

It's the kind of light you get when there is only light coming from one light source, into a darkish space. It has a certain timeless quality to it, which makes the image look like it could come from any era. The photo below is one of our favourite examples of this in action.

The bean shelling photo was metered for Ro (Kate's hairy dude) around his cheek, between the dark and the light area. if Kate had metered for the lightest spot on his cheek the photo would have been too dark, and if she had metered for the dark area it would have been a more typical backlight photo, with all of the subject lit more brightly.

The way that light is coming into this photo, just hitting a part of the quinces, and the meat and boards gives the photo so much more dimension than if there was another light source flattening everything out. It has such a wintery calming feel about it. This photo was metered for the green part of the quinces where you can see the light falling on them.

The photo of Peta on the couch is good to show you, because you can actually see the light source coming in up the top right of the frame. The light is filtered by a filmy window (the one time having dirty windows goes in your favour!) the way it is hitting the texture of the couch makes it look so cozy and inviting. This one was metered on Peta's fringe, again between the dark and light bits


Neither of us are huge fans of using artificial lighting in photos, but the one time we reckon you can get away with it, is when you are using lamp light to create a Rembrandtish scene. It has a really nice still feel to it. In this one Kate metered on the pillow on the seat. 

Another lamp lit scene, we don't want to get too into composition in the light section, but note now sometimes you don't have to fill up the frame with the subject, all that negative space shows how tiny Pepper is, reading her bedtime story. Again this was metered between the light and dark bit on her cheek.


One last Pretty Rrembrandt-ish Light example to end on. it's great for making a everyday subject interesting, and especially good for lighting food. This one was metered off that middle egg.

Homework Time!

This is a bit of a tricky one, so if you do struggle with it, don't panic! Keep your eyes peeled for some pretty rembrandtish light, and if you catch some give yourself a big pat on the back!


This is the one where we talk about light becoming the subject of the photo. Sometimes the light is just so amazing that we want to bottle it up, and this is the closest to that we can get. Crinkled sheets alone don't make for the best photo subject, but throw in some pretty light, coming through the leaves outside and hitting the sheets just so, and you have yourself a photo worth taking. 

It's that captivating light, that flickers around on the wall, convincing you to stay in bed with your cup of tea 'just a little bit longer'- we don't know about you, but we can sit there forever admiring it. We guess it's kind of a good thing that it only lasts a little while each day, otherwise we wouldn't get any work done!

Some rooms get particularly pretty light at certain times of the day. Kate's lounge room (above) gets the most amazing light in the afternoon, and many pretty light photos have been taken in that room. It can make an otherwise mundane subject look amazing.


While neither of us are big fans of lace curtains in everyday life, the way the light is hitting them here, bringing out every little detail in the pattern, makes us love them after all. When we are shooting pretty light, we always meter for somewhere where the light is hitting, this usually means the rest of the scene falls into shadow, but that's part of the look we are going for, and why your eye goes straight to that lovely sparkly light. Kate metered for the curtains in the area the light is hitting them in this photo.

The light is so pretty in Kate's kitchen in the morning, and is the subject of the many of her photos. Kate has metered for the light (hitting the jars), because it's is the subject of this photo. Don't be scared of having big dark areas in your images, be a little daring and make a statement!

Our final word on Sparkly light. This is something that is around you most days (unless is MEGA greyland). It is the thing we find most magical about our everyday. The way light hits the things around us stop us in our tracks, make our heart skip a beat or just make us smile.

We have to slow down a little to see it. So please try to.


Let's recap…

Homework Time!

Have you slowed down? Have you witnessed some of this little bit of everyday magic? Photograph it! This is one you will really notice the difference metering makes coming into play!