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Landscapes and Light

Lesson 3 of 12

Understand & Work with Backlight

Matt Kloskowski

Landscapes and Light

Matt Kloskowski

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Lesson Info

3. Understand & Work with Backlight

Lesson Info

Understand & Work with Backlight

back late can be a lot of fun. It's and it's one of those things that you can look for so past. You're gonna notice I'm going to save sunrise and sunset almost for last. That's like a give me you know. You get there at sunrise, you get there at sunset. Everything just happens. You don't have to search around a lot because you're going to shoot something. And if it's sunrise or sunset and the sun is out, you know there's not too much to it. So I'm saving sunrise or sunset for last back. Latest fun because after sunrise or sunset happens or you're traveling somewhere and you can't be there at sunrise or sunset. You go on vacation with your boyfriend, girlfriend, husband, wife, kids, whatever we've all been now like we can't we can't go out shooting all the time. Um, and a lot of times we go see these places and it's at two in the afternoon, 11 oclock in the morning. What do you do back latest. Something that you can look for cause backlight happens any time. Any time the sun's up in this...

guy, it could be low in the sky it could be high up in this guy, but you can find something that appears backlit. So what works for back late trees, Flowers, Um, water and waves. You know, Imagine you're on ah beach where the waves are crashing and it's backlit and you capture you capture a photo where you're actually freezing the water and you see it splash and it appears that it's glowing in a way. So water and waves look great Flowers. Flowers is kind of like the gimme. All right, You see cool flowers on the ground. Spring's coming spring is not coming now, But when spring is coming, you see cool flowers on the ground and you're like, I want to take a picture of this And this I struggled with for years cause I'd see great pictures of flowers from people, And then I'd get somewhere and I take a picture. And it was flat and ugly, and I didn't get it. I didn't know what the magic was into making making that that picture all right, back like fine. Find the backlight, find fine where the sun is and get on the other side of so those flowers or back of looking. They look like they're glowing, all right. And then you take what we learned with sidelight, and you can apply it the backlight as well As as I had to move around for this photo. See the background. The background is actually just a green hill that was behind it. It was in the shade when if I were to move over to the left a little bit, it kind of opened up. And there was the sky, and there were sunlit hills and everything like that. So I actually had to get down there, and I had to move around so I could put that dark hill behind their. That's why those flowers pop out like that. Another one is trees, you know, some could be straight up in the sky. All right. You want something to shoot? Look up. What's up? What's up? But you know what's up there? What's up, guys? Uh, what's up there? You know, look up. Find something to shoot. Find something that sums up there. What is it? Lighting and it lighting anything interesting? Um, and that's that. That could be a really powerful shot, especially, You know, fall is coming. You look up. You get those I I mean trees or even changing already, cause I saw him on the trip up here. So you see these yellow trees? You get a bright blue sky. Look up. You put the yellow against the blue. You have contrast in colors. It's a really nice photos. This was up at Mt. Rainier. This was last August when all the wildflowers were blooming again. They're backlit, they glow. And I searched around so I could put a dark hill behind them. A dark, shadowed hill which actually really makes those flowers pop out. So I put this photo in because it actually refers to the next one. So these flowers air backlit. But what's the difference with that? Almost the same photo, different places, right? But what's the difference? I'll go back. And the difference is is that the sun is just down to low toe, actually, like the flowers. All right, we're in this photo. The sun is actually up high enough. Where those flowers air glowing right? You can see all that way. Which one's better? I don't know either one. I mean, they're both nice photos, but I just want to draw your attention to it just cause the sun's behind it doesn't mean it's always gonna be lighting. So you kind of just have to be aware of that. The backlight is not quite as prevalent. If I were to say I actually like this photo a little bit better because to me this is almost a little too contrast. I brought too much into the scene, right? But we're concentrating on the flowers, and I really cropped in on that. I might have a different shot, but to me there's way too much going on in the scene. And I dont get a real feel for those flowers. And to me, it's just it's almost a little chaotic down there. Um, getting trees, you know, backlit trees. Fine, fine. A cool looking tree. Figure out a way to get the sun behind it. And as you walk around, you can put it behind it. Background tip. So we already talked about this, but find something dark to try to put it behind. So here's an example. A little bit of snow on there and all I did was just move around the the initial shot when I walked up to it. It was actually in front of that yellowish tree, and you didn't see it as much. You couldn't see that back like you couldn't see that glow because it was up against another glowing thing. All right, so put it up against something dark. Same thing that this this these two photos here, this is what we call in landscape photography. Pure luck. So it had just snowed. This was in Colin, Colorado, outside your A and I had just snowed, so you can see the snow on the evergreens. But you still have all the aspens there that are yellow. And it was cloudy, cloudy, cloudy and were driving by. And we're looking up in the sky and we see a couple little breaks are behind it, and we stop. And it's like, all of a sudden, these beams of light to shine down. So there's a lot of luck involved in, But if you know what you're looking for, you help yourself out. Okay? So what doesn't work? I thought this was an important one for this. What doesn't work for backlit, um, mountains buildings, and I shouldn't say doesn't work. The photos that are gonna come up. I think you're okay. But I just want you to be aware of what happens. What's the difference? So mounds are a good one here. All right, So, Rainier, and look at this. Something of the sun's behind it. Look at the mountain. It's washed out. All right, we think in Mount Rainier, we think of this, you know, big majestic mountain with snow and the contrast and the texture and everything like that on there. And it's washed out. It's washed out because the sun's behind it. Okay, now, here's the sun coming up in front of it. See, the different mean there's a big difference in the way that mountain looks. Same peak. Just a big difference in the way it looks because one of backlit ones not so what amount their shooting. I'm kind of looking for that. I'm thinking, you know, when I was at Rainier Rainier on the on the What's it called? The Paradise. The paradise side. That's primarily a sunrise spot. Okay, everything over on that side is a sunrise spot because the sun comes up and it shines on Mount Rainier. All right, so at sunset we get that washed out mountain. So you have to think about that. What kinds of things do you want to shoot? So it's sunset. I tried to concentrate more on the flowers and on, went up into some of those trails and shot some of the mountain ranges that were off the other way. Because the sun's going behind me. I'm able to shoot that way. This is Grand Tetons. Grand Tetons are freakin awesome. Huge majestic mountains. And they're basically a silhouette because they're backlit. Still cool shot. Let's say it's bad. It's just understand why, why that happens. So again you go to the Grand Tetons. That's primarily or seem most your shots. Most your locations air sunrise spots because the sun shines on the tee times, here's one again. Just backlit buildings. Not bad, actually, kind of like the feel of it. This is in Dubai, and it's got a very desert e warm type of feeling, too, with sun, and you feel it. But again, you lose all the detail in there because the lights behind it. So how do we capture this? Overexposed a little bit, cause what's gonna happen So things or backlit were pointing the camera at it. What happens? Our cameras going to see all that light coming in and it's gonna it's gonna shut down. It's gonna want toe under exposed goods. Could say Hey, a lot of light coming in here I got I got to tone this down a little bit And what happens is you're gonna have a lot of things in shadow so overexposed a little bit. It's OK to blow out some of the some of the whites in the photo. It's not a bad thing. This is the son you're shooting into the sun. Guess what? It's white. You don't have to bring the detail back in the sun or in things that that it may be shining, um, so overexposed, A little bit. Make sure you have your lens shade on because that's going to help keep flare from getting too much too involved in there. You don't want flair to ruin the photo and and consider something if you have a hat with you. Ah, lot of times I use my hands. I do also carry a hat and I play around with the hat on the lens shade, so I put the lens shade on and I still play around and try to kind of curl the hat over the edge of it so that I can keep that sun flare from really becoming too much of an issue for the photo on. Believe it or not, it's not all. It's not all marketing fluff those those lenses with nano coating. We hear that Nano. It's like, you know, the new lens has the extra special nano coating. It actually helps. I've put him side by side with windows that don't have it, and you'll see a lot of little flare spots happen inside of there. No, they're kind of hard to get rid of in photo shop. If depending on where their place, I just rather avoid him. Post processing. So what kinds of things that we want to do? Ah, lot, A lot of shadow enhancement. So here's one of those photos. A lot of shadow enhancement, and if you think about it, we're shooting into the sun. We want this to be warm, so I'm always gonna tweak the warmth a little bit, too. So let's take a look here, so I'll kind of open up the exposure a little bit. But I'm really gonna You can see the difference in the shadows and you can kind of play around with you. I can open the shadows up if I have something of interest in here. And that last photo I remember this one. We had all those trees. I brought out some detail in the trees in this photo Here, I can actually go the other way with shadows, and it almost naturally darkens that background. If you look at it all right. Whites and blacks, that's always a stop for me. Option are all click and then option. All click on blacks, not just give you. That's the way I get contrast because that's going to give you contrast and color in the photo. And then I'm gonna get in there and warm it up quite a bit, maybe even a little bit of clarity, which is also another contrast filter. Okay, so if you look at it, that's before, and that's after quick changes, but they make a big difference

Class Description

In Landscapes and Light, Matt covers all of the different types of natural light you'll encounter while shooting landscape photography out in the field. 

There isn’t much you can do to influence the light Mother Nature provides on any given day, but you can learn how to work with it. In this class, Matt will show you amazing tips for how to capture the best possible light when shooting, and he’ll discuss the best tools for post-processing and making the most out of any outdoor photo shoot.


Trisha Davis

A lot of helpful tips and tricks to get the shot you need, even if you arent in the perfect location at the perfect time. There is beauty everywhere, you dont always have to travel to find it. Overall I enjoy Matt's classes because he stays on topic and speaks clearly.


Excellent class. I especially appreciated the specifics of what types of subjects work best in each light, as well as the Lightroom tweaks that work best with each. This is a very helpful guide.


I have been looking for this specific type of information. I love the outdoors and have always wanted to be able to capture it. Great course. The examples really helped and loved the part about blah weather. I really needed that because I would just stay home and not shoot on those days. Now I feel inspired to go out in any weather. Thanks.