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Tiny Tips 10: Study and use Backlighting for Close-up / Macro Photography

Very often, when you are taking photographs of a subject with an element of translucency (Like flowers, fruits and vegetables or maybe even a dragonfly on a twig!) you may want to give it some light from behind the subject. This is to add life to the translucent nature of the subject and to bring out vibrant colours that have to be highlighted in the picture. This is especially true for close-up, macro and food photography.

Why Use Backlighting?

Of course you will have your main light source – and it’s important to bring out the colour and texture of the object – but the translucent nature of certain materials comes out only if you have a significant back-light.

Backlighting may be done by using a reflector or deflecting surface to backlight the subject. A ‘Kicker’ or light from behind the subject may also be used. Today, it’s common to see portraits taken outdoors, with the sun itself used as a kicker, and a portable outdoor flash strobe with a soft box, used as a key light.

Precautions When Using Backlighting in Your Photography

When using backlighting, remember to avoid flare caused by light coming straight into the lens. You can do this by using a lens-hood or black cardboard as ‘cutters’ to block the light from falling directly on the lens.

Happy Shooting!

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Published: March 25, 2008 | Last Updated: July 2, 2021

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