Lighting Patterns and the Artist Voice: Back Lighting
Using a specific lighting pattern can help define our photographic voice. In my previous post I mentioned split lighting and how it can be used to evoke a certain mood and look, in particular in black-and-white portraits.
Today let’s look at back lighting. Back lighting creates silhouettes, thus enhancing the element of mystery in a photograph. It helps define the shape of a subject, without revealing any details about that subject. Personally, I find the results less (or another kind of) moody than those created by using split lighting–less moody because oftentimes there’s no hint of detail in the back-lit subject.
The Northeast blackout of 2003 revealed a spectacular silhouette of Manhattan skyline, with not a glimpse of light in the subject, itself.
Silhouettes created by sunrise/sunset:
On a daily basis, the golden hour can create spectacular silhouettes–of buildings, skylines, people, and nature. The image posted below, Manhattan Sunrise, captures a partial NYC skyline silhouetted by the first golden hour light. The image was part of Of the Mind, an art show hosted by Casa Colombo, in Jersey City.
Silhouettes created by fireworks
Silhouettes can also be captured while using back light from fireworks. Here’s a silhouette of the Holland Tunnel utility building, back lit by the Fourth of July fireworks a few years ago. This image was also part of the Of the Mind show, at Casa Colombo.
Silhouettes created by 9/11 Tribute Light
City lights can also create silhouettes. Tribute Lights can, too. Here are a few images from my photographing the Katyn Soldier memorial, silhouetted by the Tribute in Light, one September 11 night. The image was published, together with my article about black-and-white photography, in Precise Moment, a photography magazine.
Back lighting can be used to capture nature. Such is an image of a dead tree, silhouetted by the last light of the day:
Or nature and man. Such is the sunset silhouette of a sailing boat, captured between the islands of Maui and Lanai, in Hawaii:
Back lighting can also be used when photographing people, in studio or on location.
On location nature-made self-portraits, such as the Brocken spectre:
We can also create silhouettes while photographing people on location, such as commuters on their way to the Oculus:
People silhouetted by live lava, in Hawaii’s Volcano National Park:
Or by city lights, in the French Quarter, during a Vampire and Ghost New Orleans tour with the phenomenal Lord Chaz:
Maybe the silhouette of this year was the solar eclipse of August 21, 2017.
There are different ways to use back lighting to create silhouettes and tell the story.
Thanks for stopping by.
Until next time,