Atacama Back Light, Chile

October 18, 2015  •  Leave a Comment

Spiky sentinels in the Atacama Desert, Chile.

Phase One 645DF, IQ180 back, 240mm Schneider lens. One of my favourite types of light is backlighting. In the old days when Kodak first brought out its cameras, the instructions would recommend putting the sun over your shoulder when taking a photograph. This meant you had relatively boring front lighting, but it did stop a lot of problems.

Backlighting creates silhouettes, but with post-production you can usually include a bit of detail in the shadows and if you're lucky, you might score some 'rim lighting' like that on the cactii above.

Backlighting means you're shooting into the light - generally the sun for landscapes. The challenge is in keeping your image free of lens flare (although sometimes these days, photographers are asked to include flare because it is 'arty'!)

However, assuming you're old, cranky and boring like me, or that you just don't want lens flare lowering the contrast of your image and reducing clarity, you need to shade the front of your lens from the sun.

A lens shade is a good help, but when the angle of the light is this close to the lens axis, I find I need to put my camera on a tripod, set it on self-timer and walk around to the front where I shade the front of the lens with my hand or a cap. I can see from my shadow exactly when the lens is in shade.

Make sure you check the photo immediately after just in case your hand or cap was included in the composition - that is generally even worse than lens flare!

As mentioned previously, I'm leading an exclusive trip to the Atacama Desert and Patagonia in August next year. If you're interested, check out my brochure by the link below. I'd love to have you along!


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