Lighting Part 1: Back and Rim Light

Last Tuesday, we talked about the 3 things that make a strong and compelling image. (You can read that blog post here!)

This week I want to start digging in deeper to the first of those three things—light.

For the next three or four weeks, we’re going to discuss different types of light, and I’m going to host some challenges for you to be able to share your images! And the best part, the winner gets a prize!

To start with this week, we’ll discuss back and rim lighting. These two go hand in hand.

Back lighting is when the light is behind your subject and in front of your camera. It often creates that glowey, buttery effect that we all swoon over in pictures.

Backlighting will often create what we call rim light. Rim light is the highlights along the edges of your subject that help give them form and definition or a halo effect.

Sources for backlight can include

A window

The sun

Or another light source, such as this aquarium light and lamp.

Backlighting can be tricky. It’s easy to blow out your highlights (like in the image below. All sky detail was lost, but Beth still looks beautiful don't you think?) in an image in order to have your subject properly exposed or you can have the opposite problem in which the background is properly exposed but your subject is lost in shadow.

In order to avoid these two problems, first determine the goal of your image. Do you want the details of your subject (i.e. their face) to be  clearly seen or are you going for more of a silhouette?

If you want the details of your subject to be seen, it can be okay to over expose your highlights a little bit. If your photographing with your phone, slide the exposure bar up a bit. If photographing with your DSLR, bump up your exposure a couple of stops.

If you’re going for more of a shadowy feel or silhouette, try taking a picture with the auto settings to see what happens or bump your exposure down by one or two stops.

Play with the light and your camera and the positioning of your subject and have fun!

Now for the challenge! I want to see your backlit images!!  You can use your camera or phone. Whatever you have.  And remember, it doesn’t have to be a person if you can’t find any willing models, practice photographing a backlit tree, or piece of fruit, or cup of coffee and than bring the cup of coffee to me ;)

All you have to do is

1. Send your image to with the subject line Backlight Contest

2. Share this post with your friends on Facebook and tell them to enter for a chance to win.

And what does the winner get? Well, since we're talking about coffee, how about a $10 gift card to Starbucks!!! The winner will be announced by next Wednesday on my Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. Click each name to follow! 

I can't wait to see what you guys share! If you've found this post helpful, please feel free to Pin it using the image below!