Enjoy Very Long Exposures With Will Cheung And MPB

Backlighting still lifes

We show you how to position your subject to make it almost fluorescent.

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Put the sun behind your subject to create an almost fluorescent image.
Words & Picture Peter Bargh ePHOTOzine

Many objects take on a new translucent glow when they are backlit. In this example the wilting daffodil was on its last legs but the wrinkly texture provides a good photo opportunity with the sun behind it.

The problem is the background. To get a good backlit picture you may find the background is cluttered and spoils the shot. You could select around and remove this later if you have an image editing program. But it would be much easier if you rectified the problem at the taking stage.

Backlighting still lifes: Backlighting still lifes
If you place a dark or coloured object behind the subject you can make the subject stand out from the background.

I used the nearest thing to hand which was a dark blue case from a Lastolite reflector. You have to be careful where you place the dark item or you could block the sun from the main subject. By holding it up you can move it around to a suitable place while looking through the viewfinder.

Backlighting still lifes: Backlighting still lifes

Backlighting still lifes: Backlighting still lifes

The trick is to move it as high up behind the object without any sun being shielded. The Arrow in the diagram above shows the path of the sun and the picture above right is the actual backdrop I used in place. You can use card, cloth or metal as a backdrop. If you enjoy doing these sort of photos you could even create a purpose built set up that could be used again and again for indoor still life shots.

You may have noticed I have included my thumb in the photo and the background is only just covering the subject. I already had in mind that I would clone in the rest of the backdrop which I did later using Photoshop. Once again the better you can get the background in the first place the less work you'll have to do later! Backlighting still lifes: Backlighting still lifes

And once the cloning is done we have the finished picture. Makes a change from all the fluffy spring shots don't you think.

And with a clean background like this it's easy to replace it with different colours if you prefer...again using the selection tool (Magic wand is fine for this example) and paste a new background or use hue saturation to change the colour.

In the examples below I added clouds, cut from the sky of another photo on the left and made up a background using Motion blur and grain in Photoshop for the example on the right.

Backlighting still lifes: Backlighting still lifes

Backlighting still lifes: Backlighting still lifesBacklighting still lifes: Backlighting still lifes

Subject to try
All kinds of flowers
Pea pods
Patterned silk material
Arm or leg (hairs will appear glowing)
Sliced fruit

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