Busman’s Holiday for Photographer-the birthday

Well, you may think I’ve been off galvanting again and getting nothing done, but I’ve spent the weekend with a friend for his 65th birthday. He is also a fellow photographer. As it was HIS birthday, I did the honours with the camera on the night. It was great party and a lovely cake I couldn’t have, but never mind. I took some of my favourite dark choloclate and some Brandy. I think the shots are in focus! There’s a bit of blur on the action shots with the cake, but I didn’t want to use flash.

Happy Birthday

Yum yum!

He'll never see 64 again- and we won't let him forget it!

Birthday boy and his lovely wife.

In house entertainment from birthday boy.

Whilste we were there, a summerhouse was built – a family gift for birthday boy. I’m sure no-one will mind if I show you shots of the construction. The most I did was hold things for a bit and provide the odd joke, plus taking the shots for posterity and the giver, of course.

Tamping down the fun way

Lack of Light - No Problem!

No, you're not seeing things! A Victorian lamp. Perfect for the job!

Birthday boy and I went out and did a bit of photography once we’d recovered from the party, but I’ll save those shots for another day when I’ve had a chance to go through them. Thanks for your patience with me and my eratic blogs.  I can’t be here all the time or the photos would get really boring!


Uses of Backlighting in Photography


Backlighting can be a useful tool in photography. Its use can change the whole effect of an image. For example, in the image above, I used the backlight of the sunset to silhouette the tree alone in the landscape. It required patient and careful positioning of the camera to ensure the sun didn’t cause too much glare or flares in the picture. In the next shot, the sun was very low, but placing the camera low (so shooting high) allowed me to silhouette the bird as well as the fence. I did colour this image in Photoshop, and this was easier to do without flare or clipping getting in the way because the backlight was fairly soft. If you want to try these kinds of shots, you may find a filter useful when contrasts are high. My lens for these shots just had a UV filter screwed on. I almost always have this on each lens as it protects the lens itself and helps when photographing water or shiny surfaces.

beacon hill 001

The next couple of shots involve indoor backlight. I only have a couple of small, tabletop daylight photographic  lamps, but you could use a bright halogen reading lamp, as long as your camera is stable, either on a tripod or beanbag, so you can adjust your shutter speed to get enough light into the image. Experiment with the angle of the light coming through your subject. Experiment with your shutter speed. Don’t be afraid to play with white balance either. This will affect the colour cast on your final picture. I wanted natural colours in these shots, but you may be aiming for something more arty, and may find changing white balance gives you the colour cast you’re aiming for. If not, you can always play with the tones and colours once it’s back in your editing programme.

light 039

light 012

gardenflowers 283

The image below was a seed pod simply placed in front of a bright light. I used my 300mm zoom macro lens to get in really close and reveal the seeds inside. I used a similar technique with the fern leaf, which has given us a great view of the spores underneath it. I like the patterns revealed doing this. Of course it doesn’t work as well with thick, leathery leaves, but can be very effective on thinner ones and petals. This flower was backlit for a series of photos as the almost translucent petals caught my eye one day when the sun shone through them. I need to get them out of the wind, so cut one or two, brought them indoors and used my tabletop lamps to achieve this effect. Talk about seeing things in a different light!

gardenflowers 164


Backlighting can also make a human silhouette. If you take the picture of your subject against a plain or white background you’ll make life easier for yourself. I had my volunteer stand in front of an upstairs window on a fairly dull day as I didn’t want sky detail. This of course backlit him, ensuring an easy and quick silhouette.


And finally, this one isn’t really backlighting, but an experiment shining a light INSIDE a flower. Time for you to play now, I guess.

lit inside lily

My apologies for the delay in getting this post out and replying to some comments. Our internet connection went down a couple of days ago and we got it back at 3am last night. It’s put me behind with the website, too as I needed to work online, but I’m sure I’ll catch up soon. I spent the day doing all the stuff I’ve been neglecting to get photography work done, so the house is cleaner and tidier, which will make life easier when preparing for Christmas. I hope all your preparations are going well. It can be a hectic and stressful time, but hopefully you’re all on top of it and are going to have a great holiday. I’ll put up our tree and decorations on Friday, after my birthday, which is almost always overshadowed by Christmas, so I make the tree wait. There’s no rush now the children have left home!

Have you tried backlighting? Is it something you might have new ideas for? Please, let me know. It would be great to hear of your experiments and see the results.

Playing With Light


zoom burst



I’ve been pondering all day what to blog about while sorting through all those files. Then it came to me. The primary necessity for photography or art is light. So that’s what I’m looking at here. I love light. In fact I’m prone to SAD in winter, I need it so much. In photography, the light, as we all know, can make or break a shot.

I also love fire. Fire IS light. So I played have played with it quite a lot. Candles, fires, fireworks. They all attract and delight us but aren’t easy to shoot well. And there’s always the question of what mood do you want the finished shot to have? This can affect the angle of the light and the shot and aperture settings as well as choice of subject matter. In the first photo, Zoom Burst, I simply Focussed on my light ball with the camera on quite a long exposure and zoomed out with the lens as the exposure was running. If you have a point and shoot, I’m afraid you won’t be able to do this one. But for those with DSLRs, this is fun to try.

In this next one, I was simply working towards very ambient, quiet images for an agency who sell photos for book covers. They wanted soft, darkish pictures that could be used for fiction.I liked the shadows cast by the candle and the softness of the overall image. I played around with the colour settings in Photoshop as rendering natural colours was not the focus here.


Candle Sconce

The next shot is totally different. Here we see a friend wielding a length of Kevlar rope, soaked in paraffin and lit. He then whirrs it around to give a brilliant light show. I set my camera up, resting it on the back of a chair and took long exposures. In Photoshop, I used curves to accentuate the light and lose the surrounding grass etc so that you get the vividness of the light show without the distracting background.


Light Show

And below, you see an extract of the flames because I zoomed in as much as I could. I stayed well back physically, of course. My friends playing with fire should be treated with caution. 🙂 Once back at Photoshop I simply boosted the contrast a little so you can see the patterns. This has been used as a background shot.


Zooming In


There are many, many more ways of playing with light, of course. There are no sunrises and sets here (except my parting shot). No clever sparkles or smoke glares. But there are a few ideas to get your juices flowing and, as it is Saturday night, I’m off through the gate into the sunset.


See You Soon!







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