Jillian Ann – Backlit

You probably think that I messed this one up, don’t you?  Believe it not, I did this on purpose.   The questions is then… why?

I wanted to create a back-lit, dreamy, make-you-fall-in-love, fashion-magazine shot (phew…).  I knew I had to put the sun behind Jillian.  I knew there would be flare from the low setting sun. I knew it was going to be difficult to focus.   What I didn’t know was how bad the flare was, and what it does to the contrast of the photo.

I asked Jillian to turn her back to the sun.  She vehemently protested that the shadow was going to make her look like a ghost. But being a professional and a true artist, she complied.  I fumbled with the auto-focus hunting, clicked when it finally settled, chimp’d at the LCD, scratched my head with confusion; then tried to repeat the focus-click-chimp-puzzled process for the next minute or two.  Meanwhile, the onlookers giggled.  They suggested that I quit wasting time and put her under direct sunlight.  As stubborn as I am,   I was determined to figure this out.

Anyway, I was not happy with what I saw back then; but I knew I got the elements of a high-key picture in place: blown-out and low contrast.  I could probably salvage it with some post-processing.  Sure enough, I was able to bring back healthy contrast with a simple black-point using Nikon Capture NX2.  Next, I processed the TIFF in Photoshop to enhance the sunset – making the background look like autumn leaves.  Voila!  This is pretty close to what I wanted to accomplish.


Next, I tried some black and white conversions.  This is a filter called high-contrast.  Oooh, much better!

Why stop here?  This following picture is called infra-red filter.  I like the grainy effect and the soft focus.  Made it dreamy.

Finally, this is probably my favorite.  Pin-hole.  I am as happy as I could be.
Jillian Ann - BacklitHere are the lessons I learned:

  • Get out of your comfort zone.  Try something different.  Else you will never learn new tricks.  You would get the same picture like everyone else; over and over again.
  • Don’t listen to bystanders.  You are the shooter.
  • Keep experimenting.  If it is easy, then it probably won’t be dramatic.
  • It’s OK to look foolish; as long as you have an objective.  Then you can live to write about it in a silly blog.
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