Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Capturing the Magic of Summer

by Kelly

The month of June plays host to the summer solstice and the longest days of the year.  And as photographers, that means more daylight hours for enjoying all that summer goodness.  One of my favorite ways of capturing the magic of summer is by shooting with backlight.

It can be a bit tricky though, so today I thought I might share with you a couple of examples of how I manage my camera settings to help me achieve the look I'm going for.

As the name suggests, backlighting means shooting in the general direction of the light source - in the examples I will share with you today, that would be the sun.  The light source is behind the subject so there is a considerable amount of light coming in to the camera's sensor.  And therefore the camera's 'correct' exposure will often read a little dark.

Here is SOOC shot I took of my lavender blooms in the morning sun.

My camera was set to use 'Evaluative Metering' which reads all the light from the entire frame and adjusts the exposure accordingly.  This shot is what the camera thinks is the 'correct' exposure...and to be honest, I'm not really all that unhappy with it.  In fact I quite like the delicate rim light around the individual lavender petals.

But this shot doesn't convey my delight with seeing the sun this morning for the first time in days.  It was so light and bright and I wanted my photo to reflect that.  So I overexposed my shot by two stops with the following results.

Now this is more like what I saw in my mind's eye....soft and dreamy.  Bright and airy.  This shot more accurately reflects how the morning felt to me.  And so this is the shot I chose to use.

So the next thing I did was open the Develop Module in Lightroom to give it a few subtle tweaks.

I reduced the highlights and boosted the presence a slight bit.  Then I played with the tone curve to give it a nice matte finish.  Then as a final touch I sharpened it slightly and added a bit of a vignette. Here's the final image.

Of course, keep in mind that there is not 'right' or 'wrong' exposure....the question to ask is, does this shot tell the story that you are trying to tell.  So let your heart lead you and then adjust your camera accordingly.

We are so excited to see your wonderful Golden Hour goodness this month.  Share with us all your magic moments in our Flickr pool or on Instagram with the hashtag #focusingonlife.

Until next time,



Anonymous said...

Great post, Kelly! This is the one thing that I play over and over in my head...trying to achieve that perfect lighting! I always try to underexpose because I can brighten it up later in Lightroom/Photoshop. Your photos are beautiful! Thanks for sharing the tips and have a wonderful day!

kelly said...

thank you suz! seeing as how i am the queen of overthinking things, i totally know what you mean! :) hope you have a great day too!

terriporter said...

I always love your backlit shots (as well as your photo and LR tips!). This is going to be a beautiful month in the gallery with all the golden hour shots. Can't wait to see them all!

Dotti said...

You are Queen of the Golden Hour and this tutorial is perfectly timed. I'm happy to get all these suggestions. It is going to be a fun month.

Renuko Style said...

Thanks for the tutorial Kelly. I love everyone of your backlit shots. It's my favorite way to capture nature and flowers. I think I have been using the wrong # for focusing on life. Will check on this. Thanks also for the invite.

heyjudephotography said...

Kelly, your photo is pure magic, and I always love all of your golden hour photos. I love seeing your process and can't wait to see everyone's golden hour photos this month!

Anonymous said...

I agree the final image really does capture the mood of an early summer morning better than the first one (though I do like that one, too). Thanks for the step by step explanation of how you got there! It's truly lovely.

Beverly said...

Great tutorial Kelly! I hope to take some time this summer to capture the golden hour beauty!

Susan Licht said...

a wonderful tutorial, Kelly..I always learn so much from you. And you always tell your story so beautifully!

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