My biggest photo obsession in 2011 was backlighting. It’s a tricky fish to net for sure.  But, when I get that perfect glow shot, it feels so fantastic.

So, it’s no surprise that backlighting was my goal for my boys’ annual photo.  I started using it for clients and so wanted it for myself. These are some of my most favorite portraits of my kiddos…and my smiling Schnauzer, Otto. I’m still in awe that the dog thinks these sessions should include him and that he actually smiles!

My boys really liked this session, too.  It was quick. A low, about to set sun meant I couldn’t take very long. And, the location was convenient. I just dragged a bench to a spot with the light I was after in our yard. Easy.

Some things I’ve learned in shooting backlit photos:

  • Wait until about an hour before sunset on a bright day
  • Find tall trees, bushes, even the edge of a building to block out part (but not all) of that big fiery ball in the sky.
  • While the main light source is behind the subject, make sure that the front of the subject isn’t overly shaded. It’s even better if the ground is lighter or reflective like train tracks or a road or a sidewalk.
  • Move around with your camera until you can get a clear picture…I’m not a fan of the super hazy, backlit photos or ones with too many sunspots. Sometimes it’s just a tiny angle shift that makes all of the difference.
  • I like my camera set at about ISO 400 and aperture  f/4.  I want to avoid shallow depth of field or too slow shutter speeds. I quickly test shoot with different shutter speeds until the exposure looks right.  A light meter can minimize test shots.



Owner of Angie Windheim Photography and Angie Windheim Communications LLC in Oregon.

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