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