How to Master Backlighting in Landscape Photography

Nothing can give life to a landscape quite like the golden-fringed glow of fabulous backlighting. As landscapes demand you work with natural light, harnessing the power of backlighting can add an array of standout subjects to your portfolio.

In his latest video, award-winning landscape photographer Adam Gibbs details how mastering backlighting can transform a simple landscape scene to breathtaking heights.

Leading us through a gorgeous assembly of his own images, Gibbs states how he is “always on the search” for backlighting in landscapes, as it separates the subject from the background with outstanding beauty.

Following from this, he goes on to an in-depth analysis of a forest image where backlighting has been subtly employed. Giving a soft halo to the maze of mossy branches, revealing intricate details and gentle colours that would be otherwise ignored. With a haze of fog lit to a ghostly white, the image is immediately made mystical and enchanting by the presence of backlighting.

But backlighting comes with the principal problem of flare. Fortunately, Gibbs gives some handy tips to help reduce this problem and make the most of your composition:

  • Use a lens hood – A simple way to reduce flare is attaching your lens hood, to block/reduce direct sun reaching the front element.
  • Clean your lens – Make sure to give your lens a good wipe to remove any dirt, dust, or water drops from the front element.
  • Leave filters off – Filters can create more problems with flare when attached, especially if the sun is hitting the front of the lens and is included in the image. Gibbs recommends using only high-quality filters if possible.
  • Shading your lens – If you’re up against a really strong sun, sometimes a piece of card or the side of your hand can help reduce flare where your lens hood isn’t up to the job.

If you’ve tried everything and still can’t get rid of the flare, then Gibbs suggests taking several exposures of the same composition with and without blocking the sun, before blending them together in Photoshop.

For more of Gibbs’ work, visit his website, YouTube, and Instagram.

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Ed Carr is a Yorkshire-born landscape photographer and nature writer. Having spent his youth in the North Yorkshire Moors National Park, he takes any opportunity to don his hiking boots and head out, camera in hand. When not out taking pictures or hastily scribbling down his thoughts, Ed’s halfway up a hill out chasing after his dog, Hendrix.

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