This is the ninth and final post in our Photography for 4th Graders series, born from a seminar that Becky has taught twice to 4th graders at her kid’s elementary school. It’s perfect for anyone interested in learning how to create higher impact images by using composition and light more effectively. See below for links to additional lessons!
Back Lighting vs. Front Lighting
Main Point: Where you place your subject in relation to the (main) light will make the BIGGEST impact on the success of your photo. Think about it before each and every photograph you take.
Frontlight is when the main light is in front of your subject.
- A disadvantage to frontlighting is that your subjects will probably have to squint if they are looking right at the sun.
- Another disadvantage to frontlighting (with the midday sun) is that your subjects will probably have unflattering shadows on their face. See the tips on working with harsh light to find out how to deal with #1 and #2!
- Frontlight tends to intensify the saturation of a scene. When you frontlight a subject outdoors, you will get the same intensity of light on your subject and the sky, so you can get an intense, vibrant sky.
4. Frontlighting with soft light (like very early in the morning or late in the afternoon) is beautiful. Your subjects will have a warm (yellowish-orangish) glow on their face.
5. Frontlighting works well in a shady spot (like an open garage) where the light is indirect. Remember to bring your subject to the front of the shadow.
Sidelight is when the light comes from… you guessed it, the side.
- An advantage to sidelighting is a lot of contrast, which shows the details of an object beautifully. This is a great choice for details or food. It works best if the light is soft. If you look at the cup, you can see all the light is coming from the left of the camera.
2. Contrast is often NOT pretty on a face, so side-lighting only works on some faces. Generally, if you do sidelight, have the subject turn their body away from the light and their face toward it (making it more similar to front light. Again, it’s very flattering when the light is soft, especially for women and for older subjects.
Backlight is when the main light is behind your subject.
- One advantage to to backlighting is often a beautiful rim or halo around your subject’s heads/hair.
- Another advantage to proper backlighting is no unflattering shadows on your subject (because all the light is coming from behind, so your face is essentially in shadow). Look, it’s me! I don’t like pictures of myself, but backlighting helps
- Backlight photos often produce a “hazy” look, especially early in the morning or later in the afternoon. Some people like this look, some people don’t. I happen to love it.
- Silhouettes are a special form of backlighting, when the light behind the subject is very strong. You might have to underexpose to achieve a silhouette, especially in the evening. I really never do a shoot without at least one silhouette. I just love experimenting with them.
This CONCLUDES the Photography for 4th Graders Series!!!! I would love to do more posts to help y’all with your photography, so please feel free to leave questions in the comments!! I’ll be putting out a call for student work soon, so please stay tuned!! Thanks for following along! Check the links below for more lessons!
Choosing what goes into a frame and where to put it. The idea with composition is to place a subject and background together in a way that tells one story!!
1. Rule of Thirds
3. Leading Lines
4. Natural Frames
5. Color and Clutter
Learning to see and use natural light to create a mood and attract the eye.
6. Dynamic Range
7. Expose for the Subject
8. Hard Light vs. Soft Light
9. Backlight vs. Frontlight