Tuesday’s Tip: Backlighting!

Backlighting : Use a Reflector

by Linsday Horn of Lindsay Horn Photography

Many of the comments I hear from other photographers about my work has to do with my use of backlighting. I LOVE backlighting! If I am a Prop Junkie, then I am a Backlight Addict. One of the tools I use to achieve my great backlit images is a reflector. Now, I can hear some of you hyperventilating already – don’t! I know that reflectors seem cumbersome and can be frustrating at first (at least I certainly thought they were), but after some trial and error and practice, you will find it makes such a huge difference when backlighting your subjects. Here’s an example using two SOOC images. These were shot at around 6 p.m. in an urban area courtyard. We were just catching the tail end of the sun as it went down behind the building in the background, so this really shows a much more minimal difference then if you were in full sun. I used the same settings to better illustrate the point, and the reflector (white side) was held directly camera right.

You can see that using the reflector eliminates some shadows, particularly around her eyes and under her nose. It gives a much more even exposure, and most importantly, it really brightens her eyes, and even adds a nice catchlight. For me, that is the number one reason I use a reflector whenever possible while backlighting. I really try to focus on the eyes when I shoot, and a reflector can add such wonderful light and life to eyes that are otherwise going to be dark and more hidden. It also gives me a nice clean slate from which to edit. For example, I don’t have to worry about the shadowed areas getting too dark as I bump the blacks in ACR to cut some of the haze from the image.

Here is my final edit on this shot of my lovely subject Meagan:

Don’t be intimidated by your reflector! I don’t shoot with an assistant, so I manage to shoot and wrangle it all by myself about 95% of the time. It just takes some practice to find your groove, but it will come. Here’s a link to the reflector that I use HERE. If you want to learn more about backlighting (and reflectors), I highly recommend the Finding the Light workshop. It really changed the way I shoot for the better.

More of Lindsay’s work:

A HUGE “Thank You” to Lindsay for sharing with us!  Please take a minute and stop by her Fan Page {HERE} and leave her some love!



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Kristin - May 10, 2011 - 12:02 pm

Thanks for these amazing tips! I love backlighting with the sun :) I was interested in the Finding the Light workshop, but it’s too late to register. Do you recommend any other online workshops?

Lindsay - May 10, 2011 - 1:43 pm

Loved this post and love Lindsay’s work! The link to the reflector is not working? Would love to know what Lindsay uses ;)

Joni - May 11, 2011 - 5:20 am

Thanks! This is great! I’m in need of a new reflector, but I can seem to get the link to work…

You’re work is very beautiful! Thank you!

Claire - May 11, 2011 - 12:54 pm

Thanks so much for all your insight this week, I have really enjoyed it and have been learning a lot! :)

Lindsay - May 11, 2011 - 12:56 pm

Hey guys, sorry the link isn’t working, it’s Ebay so the posts keep expiring! Try this one: http://cgi.ebay.com/5-IN-1-COLLAPSIBLE-MULTI-PHOTO-LIGHT-REFLECTOR-40-x60-/230619861628?_trksid=p4340.m263&_trkparms=algo%3DSIC%26its%3DI%252BC%26itu%3DUCI%252BIA%252BUA%252BFICS%252BUFI%26otn%3D10%26pmod%3D180663031057%26ps%3D63%26clkid%3D9080002685560078903. Thank you for your sweet comments!

@Kristin, I also took and loved the Bloom Workshop, although I’m not sure when the next one is. If you love backlighting though, definitely keep Finding the Light on your calendar for September – I may be in there too as an alumni! :)

Jamie Tussey` - May 11, 2011 - 1:27 pm

the link for the reflector didn’t work for me. could you repost the link or email it to me?


Sarah - May 11, 2011 - 1:35 pm

How funny! A friend & I were just discussing using a reflector on shoots, and how to “work it” without an assistant. :) Glad to know that it is possible. Adore & follow your work, Lindsay. Great post!!!

Sharyn - May 11, 2011 - 2:44 pm

The only thing missing from this post is a shot/diagram of the setup…

Well written and super interesting, but it’s hard to visualise where you have the reflector and how you manage to do both reflector and camera at once!

Lindsay - May 12, 2011 - 11:16 am

Thank you all for the feedback, I’m glad the post was helpful! I will definitely see about doing a follow-up post with some “action” shots, I’ll just have to find an assistant to take some! :)

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