Something I’ve Been Experimenting With… Backlighting.

by SomeGirl on August 17, 2011 · 14 comments


I had heard of it, but didn’t understand it until I stopped by the Pioneer Woman’s blog one day and ran across this beautiful post: Frontlight vs. Backlight | Pioneer Woman Photography | Ree Drummond.

She made a simple photo of cows look SO dreamy just by putting the cows between the sun and herself – backlighting them. (check it out here)

From the moment I saw that post, I knew I wanted to learn how to take photos like that. So, the experimenting and practicing ensued.

I’ve had many failed attempts, which I’ll not share at the moment (1st step in improving your photography skills, only show good photos). ;)

However, here are some photos that I will share (that are the easiest for me to get to. I really would share the bad photos, but I’m trying to keep my time on the computer short tonight.)

Please keep in mind that I am just an amateur sharing what I’m learning. :)

I wanted to capture the joy my boys were experiencing as they bounced from bed to bed at one of our hotel stops on our road trip, so I grabbed my trusty camera and started shooting….

I noticed I was shooting into the light and wasn’t sure how the photos were going to turn out, so I moved over by the window to let the light shine over my shoulder onto the boys – frontlighting them.

Kind of boring, hu?

Fortunatley, I remembered what I had learned about backlighting and what my sweet husband had taught me about sidelighting (letting the light shine on the side of your subject) and took a few (dozen) more photos, moving around the room to see what lighting effect could be achieved…

(Watch as I move around the room to the left of the bed)

(Do you see how the light is starting to show on the back of my littlest one in the photo above, making the photo a little more interesting?)

(Here my littlest one is sidelit, with the light shining on half of his face, which I really like. Btw, he’s holding his breath as he jumps of “the edge of the pool.”) ;)

(as I move toward the back of the room with the boys jumping between the sunshine and me they start to glow a bit, creating a more pleasing picture than the frontlit ones, in my opinion.)

There you have a sampling of frontlight, sidelight, and backlight (and a peek into our hotel life while we were gone). Nothing like the Pioneer Woman’s yet, but I’m still practicing! ;)

And I thought it would be fun to get you started experimenting as well. :)

(If you’re already a pro at backlighting and sidelighting, do you have any tips to share? I’d LOVE to learn from you in the comment section below!)


If you have a second, would you please answer this quick poll at: All you have to do is check a box and be done. It would REALLY help me out for Friday’s “blogging tips” post… thank you!! ♥




Interesting! Love those pj pants on your youngest, btw! :) And those cow pictures are beyond fabulous. I wonder if she has ever photographed an oreo cow…


Everything she does is fabulous… how can that be??! Btw, the pants came from Target. :)


This is so cool!


Thanks, Heather!

Betsy at Zen Mama

I’ll have to practice that! I’m getting ready to send my first photos to istock. I realized how attached I am to them as the thought of someone else using them kind of got to me! I’ll let you know how it goes!!


Can’t wait to hear how it goes! (And I can’t believe how lame I am… I really don’t know what’s happened to my memory.)

We need to live by each other so we can talk in person and sit to discuss photography! I would be much better at remembering things if we were side by side. (Sorry I forgot to send you a critique!)


How fun! I’m going to have to play with this too.

I couldn’t help but laugh at all the fun chaos the boys were having while you calmly experimented with photo techniques. I love that. Well, that’s the way it appears anyhow, with you calmly writing your explanations. I’m sure the reality was not quite so peaceful, but I love it anyhow!
Thanks for sharing another piece of you trip with us.


Hehe… it was that way for the boys and me, but Steve was getting hungry and ready for dinner. ;)

Let’s experiment together with backlighting sometime… maybe a friendly neighbor backlighting challenge to get us going. What do you think? :)


Love the pics girl! I love playing with Lighting. Check out my Manual Wordless Weds….I’m braving manual mode now only. **Eeek xoxo


LOVED your Manual Wordless Wednesday pic! I’ve just started playing with manual, too… not as scary as I thought it would be! :)

Deb Chitwood

I always love your photo lessons showing different ways to do things! And thanks for the helpful link. I just think your road trip was amazing – lots of fun in hotel rooms even! :)


Thank you, Deb!


Love these tips. Backlighting is one of my favorite tricks of the trade. :)


You’ll have to share your tricks for getting good results… I’m having a hard time finding the result I like. Any thing you can share? :)

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