Photography Tips – Backlighting – an Introduction

another way you can go against
conventional wisdom is to shoot against the light this is called back lighting I’ve got a rim, a halo running across my shoulders through my hair and down the other side, it’s called a rim light this is caused by back lighting and it’s making it extra decorative i feel. Back lighting works particularly well
with translucent subjects such as a bottle of wine glass, due drops, ice things of that nature. It’s also great with portraits now janey is shooting against the light with the video camera and that is why i have this rim light going on all around me. To explain the technique i’m going to talk you through a back lit portrait by doing one of Nat here. as you can see the sun’s coming from
right behind us it’s really quite strong we’ve got the river we got some trees
off into the distance there, these are really really useful because when you’re
back lighting a portrait it’s often best to have your subject against something dark, if you have, if i have Nats head against the sky we’d probably lose that rim lighting effect, because the sky is really really bright. Now in order to get that isolation against the background i’m going to use a fairly long-ish lens because that will help me to isolate Tash, against whats going on behind her. when shooting into light you want to always make sure you’ve got a lens hood on, the lens hood acts like your hand over your eyes when you’re looking into the sunlight yourself if you don’t use a lens hood the chances are you’ll have a milky
washed out picture or a little boom boom boom boom boom ringlets going across it. This is called lens flare it’s great as a technique and it can look really smart but the purposes of what we’re doing now let’s just say you
don’t want it, so use a lens hood. so let’s have a go shooting a picture of
tash that’s it straighten your dress out. excellent. now just kind of look over into the trees Nat, can we just have a moody old looking into the distance. Turn your face a little to your right that’s it plenty, i don’t want to get too much light on the tip of your nose. Now when you frame-up the shot, to make sure you’ve isolated your subject against the
background, suns gone down a bit but it’s still plenty enough for back light for rim light. just shoot the shot, chances are the camera will get confused
because there’s loads of light going on behind your subject, that might upset it
and you’ll need to overexpose to compensate. The background will get really bright but it means your subject will be the correct exposure. So i need to brighten up that last shot i did of Tash i can do that by dialing in a bit of exposure compensation, i’m going to go to plus one stop, that’s going to make the picture twice as bright but the background will get brighter but tash will become the correct exposure. Let’s re-compose the shot, there we go, that’s it Tash. Let your shoulders relax a bit, it’s very good, we’re getting good at this. There we go that’s great, Tash is now at the correct exposure. come on sun we want more of you. another way you could do it it would be
to press the auto exposure lock button on the the back of the camera, if you go up close to your subject fill the frame with her or him or it, according to what you’re doing you press the auto exposure lock button like that, and as long as i hold my thumb on that button doesn’t matter where i point the camera, it’s going to keep that same exposure locked into the camera then all we have to do is re-compose your shot, and take the picture. Once again tash is perfectly exposed. Alternatively you could do it manually and that’s much the same as the last technique, you just go up close fill the frame, read of the exposure on the camera’s light meter this is a hundred and sixtieth of a second at F five point-six go to manual mode and set a hundred and sixtieth of a second at F five point six. Just like that. Take the shot, job done, when you do that ignore the camera’s light meter because it might say this is way over exposed, it isn’t you’ve exposed for the subject not the background. That’s really all there is to it. Back lighting can add a real dinamisum to your photography and i really recommend grab your camera on a sunny day, get yourself out there and have a go at this.


  1. Kissa Webb November 8, 2016 at 4:03 pm

    Thanks for the tip.

  2. Chris Estonia November 19, 2016 at 12:50 pm

    Love the speed at which you explain. Straight to the the point

  3. Reham Chadi December 3, 2016 at 8:46 am

    What is free ???plz.i live in london .and want to do photograph course .but is very expensive in can you help me .????

  4. Reham Chadi December 3, 2016 at 8:47 am

    You are the best so far im tired from jumping in youtube from course to course with deferent tutuor .

  5. William Pericelli December 6, 2016 at 3:06 am

    Would have liked to have seen your last 2 shots.

  6. ImConzz December 28, 2016 at 8:23 pm

    i want you to know that i love you. "over expose the shot when back-lighting to compensate for camera confusion"

  7. Arifuzzaman Rana January 16, 2017 at 11:17 pm

    Really well explained. Straight to the point. thanks

  8. whizkid75 January 17, 2017 at 1:14 am

    Just had deja vu o.O

  9. Jacob Raji March 3, 2017 at 10:48 pm

    love your videos, do you ever shoot with Canon cameras?

  10. ianyams April 23, 2017 at 6:19 pm

    Thanks for the lesson. ?

  11. hamstersniffer April 26, 2017 at 10:30 am

    There's never been a better photography teacher than the great Mike Browne! Even explained a lens hood in 2 seconds.

  12. GiveUTremors May 12, 2017 at 11:40 am

    Mighty Thanks Mike for this enlightening tutorial. That small AE-L button on the back of my Nikon D5500 used to bug me a lot and I couldn't get to know its function. You have explained the backlighting so lucidly that all one needs to do is go practice with your words ringing in mind. Thanks again Sir.

  13. jacasan2000 May 14, 2017 at 1:34 pm

    Excellent video … question , for film can apply same technique?

  14. Brian Teddy May 14, 2017 at 5:11 pm

    Good explanation with examples. Thanks.

  15. jon carley May 21, 2017 at 9:07 am

    I like your videos there are a lot of helpful tips. In this one I think it would benefit to explain that AEL only works with automatic or partially automatic modes some people when making the transition from the manual modes don't understand the simplicity that THEY are fully in control of the exposure and that they take a reading and then ignore the lightmetre that would also benefit from a whole lesson for it to sink in for people even though you covered it briefly I feel, at least I know it is something that confused me for quite some time

  16. T Jack June 2, 2017 at 12:36 pm

    damn most useful info i needed after all those bad videos

  17. Andrew Maher June 4, 2017 at 5:05 pm

    Found you today on YT and am new subscriber as well. Your way of explaining is so simple and clear. One question here, when you added one f-stop for the pic are you still in "auto" mode or some other??

  18. kiyonexus June 17, 2017 at 7:10 am

    the model looks sooo bored and frustrated…. you better paid her well for her time.

  19. Donna Spakes June 23, 2017 at 1:55 pm

    Would like to have seen your photos with the AE – L button held or exposure manually at the end… your final shots.

  20. Luke Teather June 27, 2017 at 3:13 pm

    You are fantastic sir, very clear and understandable video.
    Thank you

  21. Matt Brighton June 27, 2017 at 9:48 pm

    I still don't get it.

  22. Prabal Gogoi August 5, 2017 at 10:08 am

    I found problem to focusing a portrait in manual and autofocusing with blacklight when I use exposure there any role to focusing in exposure compensation?my camera d5500.lens 18-55 vr nikon

  23. Malik Martin August 28, 2017 at 4:38 pm

    Mike Browne, I spent almost $70 in cable bill a month, my point being, I would rather donate the $70 bux to your channel a month on a more productive, more enlightening and more satisfying than these garbage we watch on TV Today. Am now your Latest Subsciber. Start a Go Fund Me Page Bro.

  24. Neil Bigwood August 30, 2017 at 6:16 pm

    Nice one !

  25. Justito Tanedo September 12, 2017 at 4:44 am

    Love all you videos. Been binge watching all your videos very easy to understand. Amazing teacher from sunny California

  26. Tuomo Roiha September 23, 2017 at 7:10 pm

    Awesome vid!!!

  27. Patrick McMullen October 8, 2017 at 3:21 pm

    Just curious Mike, do you use the histogram? I find tons of articles how everyone seems to claim it's the ONLY way. But, i find it slows things down and overcomplicates things so unecessarily. It's about the art of seeing, not reading schematics.

  28. bb x2 October 24, 2017 at 4:21 am

    man this really helps…thanks, im subscribing

  29. laratta October 24, 2017 at 4:51 am

    Thanks you so much

  30. steve williams October 29, 2017 at 1:09 pm

    you are a natural as a teacher. I aspire to take a few decent pics………you have a great presentation. Thank you!!! Your video helped a lot.

  31. Joana de Sousa October 30, 2017 at 6:05 pm

    Thank you for showing, not just telling, how to use AE-L button.

  32. Chamila Waduge November 17, 2017 at 2:42 am

    A great tutorial

  33. Jan Pickett November 18, 2017 at 1:09 pm

    Or, you could simply use a light meter with an incident attachment? Them just hold the meter up at your shoulder, pointing away from the model! Auto metering is never accurate, and stops the photographer learning! Skin tone is mid grey + 1 stop, or unit of exposure!

  34. Vic Stokes Photographer November 20, 2017 at 9:47 pm

    There is something to be said about blond hair and sunlight and the sun as it catches it, gives it a silky look something similar with red hair. That is if you're into modeling.

  35. airjaff November 24, 2017 at 12:35 am

    I've found out that I cannot use any other mode other than manual. Just find they all are slow and not enough control.

  36. Amit Krupal December 20, 2017 at 6:58 pm

    Man 1st the focal length video, my favorite one and now this back light one. Its like I am asking GOD to educate me on photography & he is directing me to your videos. Awesome explanation by Mike Sir.

  37. Neal Salmon January 11, 2018 at 10:40 am

    Really well explained, thanks!?????

  38. Rayhan Qadri January 15, 2018 at 1:25 pm

    Mike when you had the AE lock button pressed what mode your camera was in was it aperture mode?

  39. TimberGeek February 6, 2018 at 6:23 am

    I programmed my DoF button to spot meter, saves the walking up and back bit. Although I suppose I'm missing the benefits of the exercise. ;-D

  40. nellphoto February 24, 2018 at 1:18 am

    Would spot metering help with this kinda shot?

  41. Zach Hall Photography February 27, 2018 at 4:40 am

    Just out of curiosity, is there a reason why you choose this technique as compared to setting your camera's metering mode to 'spot' and focusing that on the subject?

  42. TheUnkown2u March 5, 2018 at 1:46 am

    what metering mode?

  43. rmcdaniel423 March 13, 2018 at 1:57 am

    "…it makes me look EXTRA decorative."

    I damn near spit my wine out. LOL

  44. ashley butterworth April 5, 2018 at 11:19 am

    What's the difference between using the AEL and half clicking and holding the shoot button??

  45. Kelli Burr April 8, 2018 at 5:30 pm

    Great video and explanation??

  46. Benjamin Karam April 8, 2018 at 6:52 pm

    Came for the tip, stayed for Natasha.

  47. oldschoolwarrior May 9, 2018 at 7:23 am

    Yours are the most informative videos I’ve come across. They contain practical, helpful advice. So much so I’m considering looking into your courses.

  48. The Billy Acorn Channel May 20, 2018 at 2:52 am

    Mike you're the Mr Miyagi of photography

  49. Bill Fried June 4, 2018 at 2:29 pm


  50. Ramin Hashemi June 8, 2018 at 7:30 pm

    Amazing!!! After all this time, I learnt the correct use of AEL 🙂

  51. Kenneth Morales July 7, 2018 at 11:39 pm

    Million dollar tips as always! Thanks!

  52. brandishwar July 10, 2018 at 9:17 pm

    One of my favorite and (so far) best pictures is that of my cat Alice when she was still a juvenile while sitting in the window. She's all black, and the maroon curtains were parted and she was sitting in the part with the sun coming in the window behind her. The backlight made her black fur very black when the camera compensated for the light, which allowed the copper hue in her eyes to stand out as well.

  53. David Collins July 12, 2018 at 9:48 pm

    Is that a D300?

  54. David Collins July 14, 2018 at 8:23 pm

    Or D700?

  55. Rascal Husky July 17, 2018 at 2:17 pm

    Great educational video. Were in the UK was this shot? Your a good teacher, I'm learning.

  56. TXLorenzo July 19, 2018 at 10:37 am

    All models who are hot are named Natasha.

  57. loverboykimi July 19, 2018 at 6:56 pm

    nice info. tnx

  58. Deaqon James Photography July 22, 2018 at 6:21 pm

    The problem with that is that it blows out your skies. This is why flash is needed when shooting outside if you want to keep your skies blue or keep the details in the sky. 🙂

  59. Dark Djinn July 26, 2018 at 6:38 pm

    So, to get the correct exposure I have to do what you did? Walk near my model, fill my frame, hold the auto exposure button, then walk away and retake the shot?

  60. florinsi August 4, 2018 at 2:19 pm

    Thank you Mike ! Backlit you look like the saint of photography … 🙂

  61. Praveena Sarathchandra August 8, 2018 at 4:27 am

    1:31 for a laser shooting

  62. F L I T Z September 10, 2018 at 7:08 pm

    I'm learning a lot from your tutorials. Thank you, master! new subscribere here.

  63. THESATURNSSC1 September 25, 2018 at 12:12 am

    How do the "Ringlets of light go"? what sound?

  64. Håkon Johansen October 11, 2018 at 6:52 pm

    Hi. I have a question about the technique where you are moving in on the subject to use the AE-L button. What is the benefit of this over simply using spot metering on her face from the place you are taking the shot? You could spot meter on her face, hold the AE-L button, recompose and shoot. Is it about producing a more accurate reading from the light meter in your camera? Or simply to avoid the risk of hitting the background while spot-metering? Really curious about this.

  65. mohd bava October 15, 2018 at 4:50 pm

    Very helpful.
    Thank you

  66. Sandeep Mareedu October 16, 2018 at 9:06 am

    Nat is pretty

  67. Sketchmee5 October 16, 2018 at 5:06 pm

    Still watching in 2018!

  68. Sammy Tolomeo October 24, 2018 at 1:34 pm

    Fill in external flash would help a lot in this shot by compensating foreground and background exposure

  69. judith hardisty October 25, 2018 at 12:54 am

    Well explained going to try that

  70. judith hardisty October 25, 2018 at 12:55 am

    Hi Mike I am very confused about back button focus some say yes and some say no.

  71. vishwa K.D November 24, 2018 at 2:07 pm

    couldn't he have used spot metering , which would have properly exposed his subject

  72. JA_NPH December 10, 2018 at 2:26 am

    Ok, so hold exposure lock on the back button, but what is you back button focus?, you have to let go to then focus.

  73. Paul Miguel Photography December 18, 2018 at 2:23 pm

    Excellent video, really enjoyed it. Brilliantly presented!

  74. Ron Barbour December 20, 2018 at 7:17 pm

    Excellent video. Just noticed however that the pic you shot at 2:52 and the result pic shown at 2:55 are not the same pic. Different arm on Nat's side..

  75. Green Morning Dragon Productions January 6, 2019 at 11:27 am

    Very Constablesque location!

  76. Anthony Fusingan January 19, 2019 at 4:53 am

    Nice tutorial, pretty model

  77. Gábor Lipcsei January 22, 2019 at 8:35 am

    At the company where I work there was a photo shooting for the HR department. A few days ago I heared a conversation of an amateur photoing girl at the nearby office who was criticizing the photo guy like “even an amateur knows not to put your subject in backlight” 😀 Actually I liked those backlit portraits that the criticized man made.

  78. Gábor Lipcsei January 22, 2019 at 8:43 am

    As a beginner it is usually hard to decide for me if I should expose the subject properly and don’t care about the overexposed background or should I underexpose the subject and correct the exposure of the subject only (by masking) in a RAW-editing software later so both background and subject would be similarly exposed.

  79. stokedGSXR February 13, 2019 at 6:00 pm

    ba ba ba ba booooo….lens flare!

    Great video though.

  80. Juan Carlos Lopez February 21, 2019 at 10:15 am

    Is there a place for flash?

  81. S Tra March 8, 2019 at 7:09 am

    00:09 – 00:12 oh yeah, you’re a sexy little princess, aren’t you?

  82. Horace Hogsnort March 17, 2019 at 10:06 pm

    Use a hand held meter in incident mode and point the diffuser dome AWAY from the sun to get a perfect exposure. Alternatively, use an 18% reflectance card and meter the shady side. Automatic cameras are GREAT but at times the old school method is just as good and quicker.

  83. Goblin King March 18, 2019 at 12:01 pm

    Great tip, looks like Rushton Hall

  84. Paul Alex March 20, 2019 at 11:46 pm

    Thanks for another great video!! I have been shooting since I was 11 years old (won't tell you how long ago that was, but it involved film and a Canon AE-1 Programme) and I never ever thought of this. Amazing how we can go so many years and still learn something new. Love your videos, the way you explain things so clearly, and the humour. Thanks again!

  85. yu jin landscape photography. March 22, 2019 at 1:43 pm

    Great tutorial, Mike.Thank!

  86. Egor Kalenkov March 23, 2019 at 5:34 am

    Its funny when you struggle with af/l plus ae/l but the sun goes away or the moment. No matter how well the ergonomics and functioning access of the cam is you still see pros with bunch of cams on their necks often with same lenses attached to different bodies.

  87. James Sparrow March 24, 2019 at 3:03 pm

    I'm curious how would that technique work on people who don't have light skin such as Indian, African, etc?

  88. B.P. DHANA April 22, 2019 at 3:57 pm

    Wow… finally! I cracked the secret code of backlighting style in robert richardson's cinematography. Thx to your tutorial video, sir. it's very helpful and informative ?

  89. Ding fu yin Lee April 29, 2019 at 3:19 am

    Use a light at back- shoot with high speed -1.2 to 2

  90. Scotch_ OnRocks May 4, 2019 at 11:35 pm

    Shes hawt

  91. Sketchmee5 May 25, 2019 at 2:39 am

    Still watching in 2019! Love every second of this tutorial video.

  92. Davide Tiepolo May 29, 2019 at 9:19 am

    Very clear explanation! well done!

  93. daniel rudolf June 6, 2019 at 10:13 am

    No, no, wait. If you have the ael locked and then "step back", doesnt it ruin your focus?

  94. Rajesh Karkera June 8, 2019 at 8:24 am

    Mike, learning a lot from you ever since I found you here. I have a question, you did go near your model and got the exposure settings and then set it manually but you moved back to take the shot. Doesn't it make the difference for the exposure?

  95. Bling Bling The BS OF THE ISS June 10, 2019 at 7:50 pm

    I love back lighting it’s so pretty.
    That spot you’re in is gorgeous.
    I love to use this technique and adding a flash to get rid of any shadows and avoid the over exposure.

  96. John Skiggs June 16, 2019 at 5:23 am

    OOoh' are we gonna see a series of vids covering all the mystery buttons on modern cameras ? 😉 = Brilliant 🙂

  97. Shivanna Ranjeer June 26, 2019 at 11:10 am

    You said use a long lens but did not say what you were using AND in your last shot what setting did u used to determine how to set camera in manual to take the shot. This helps a newbie

  98. Barry! giddey July 11, 2019 at 1:18 am

    Fantastic video thanks very much it's always a treat seeing you at work-Keep it up Mike!

  99. Floewsoe Entertainment August 4, 2019 at 8:03 pm

    Thank You ! You Were Major Help

  100. Danielle Gagnon August 29, 2019 at 7:54 pm

    This was so helpful!!!!

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