Backlight as a Modeling Technique

Backlighting is the method that deprives the objects being shot the light they need to be clearly seen. And yet, in some instances, it can create a compelling result. Here the backlight rakes the rear and surface, providing a textured backdrop. And enough light is bounced from the arch above and to the right to provide a modest amount of sidelight, defining the teapots that form the subject.

The familiarity of these pots mean that less lighting is actually more, modeling them dramatically, and making them an interesting study, instead of the obvious objects they would be with more typical lighting. This is the very type of lighting that artists sometimes use to light subjects for still  life studies in charcoal or ink. The result is a photograph echoing a hand-drawn black and white still life. A touch of warmth in the image color, mostly to the upper right, and a cooler “light leak” mostly on the lower left add a color range to the otherwise monochrome image.


C. David Tobie

Heroic Shots of Small Subjects

Sometimes the hero shot is the right answer, even when it does not seem to be the likely question. In this instance, a clean, simple image, without background elements, (as tempting as ocean backgrounds can be) produces a more focussed image, with a clearer composition. The low angle of the shot, taken crouched and kneeling, cleans up the background, but also produces the classic heroic image. While dune grass surviving the winter and a short section of dune fencing may not be a monumental subject matter, treating it as one gets the viewer to look at it in a new way.

Popham Stillife-1

C. David Tobie