Cloudy Bright…Yeah Right!
For those of us old enough to remember simple cameras (albeit as a childhood toy) with settings such as ‘cloudy’, ‘sunny’ or ‘cloudy bright’, the advice for shooting nice clear photographs was to ensure that the sun was shining from behind the photographer’s left shoulder and facing the subject.
This approach is still used by many amateur photographers (and some professionals too). Of course, this is a good idea if you want flat, bland images. But rules are there to be broken. Put the light behind your subject, shining straight at you, and watch your images leap into life, sweeping away the notion that the light shouldn’t be directed into your lens. Don’t think flare – think flair!
Following is a selection of recent photographs by Reuters photographers that make a virtue out of backlighting the subject.
If you do intend shooting contre-jour, as it’s called, make sure the front element of your lens is free of dust.
Spotlights shine straight into Tony Gentile’s lens, creating a little flare, but there is still detail in the ski jumper creating a very dramatic effect.
The backlighting in Mike Hutchings photograph of Kenyans displaced during election violence creates an almost serene effect, which belies the sinister nature of the situation.
By ensuring the soldier is between himself and the sun Daniel Munoz creates a clear silhouette during an army patrol in Colombia.
Here is another silhouette, of Republican presidential candidate John McCain on the campaign trail, shot by Jim Young. The siilhouette tells us all we need to know about the situation, and Jim has created an interesting image out of what could have been another boring picture of a politician speaking.
Kai Pfaffenbach has created a a very dramatic image by shooting directly into the rising sun over the Frankfurt skyline.
…and yet another silhouette, created by Nicky Loh in Taiwan, of a voter leaving a booth. Simple but effective.
Here is the caption to Stefan Wermuth’s moody picture – A technician stands in the start house before the third practice of the men’s Alpine skiing World Cup downhill race at the Lauberhorn in Wengen January 10, 2008.
Back on the US presidential campaign trail, and Rick Wilking hasn’t shot a silhouette here, but the light behind Democratic candidate Barack Obama has created interesting rim-lighting.