How to Backlight Wide Angle Environmental Portraits

Wide angle environmental portraits make beautiful large format prints and are often used by photographers to capture subjects against a stunning backdrop. However, a relatively small subject can get lost in the background. SLR Lounge created a video detailing how backlighting brings attention to your subjects while adding atmospheric effects based on the environment around them:

1. Set up your camera for composition.

Place your camera in a position to emphasize the atmosphere of the environment. For example, Pye positioned the tripod next to the water to exaggerate the movement and lines of the running water.

2. Position your subjects.

Safely guide your subjects to their spot and advise them to take their time getting there while you set up your equipment and plan the next shot.

environmental camera photo

3. Set the ambient exposure.

Before adding flash, set the scene for what you want it to look like on your camera. Start with shutter speed to capture movement, and then set the aperture and ISO for the desired exposure.

4. Place your light.

Set up the backlight in a desired area in relation to your subject.

portrait subject capture

5. Set the flash to the desired ambient flash effect.

For backlighting, a photographer can use equipment ranging from cheaper flashes to the more expensive flash head. Make a choice depending on your budget and desired backlighting. The benefits of using better equipment include increased power, reliability, and quicker recycle times.

“Backlighting can make your subjects pop and turn your images from ordinary into extraordinary.”

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