Backlighting

Pamushana | April 2017

After watching the bull elephant leave the water as the sun began to set, we slowly cruised upstream and found a large pod of hippos snorting with laughter. The sun was setting behind them, their whiskers shone gold, their ears turned rose and we were provided with some incredible backlit opportunities.

For a successful backlit photograph, you need to pay particular attention to your exposure. You may want the animal to be well lit, in which case its outline may be blown out a little. Or you may want to expose specifically for the rim-lit areas creating a semi silhouetted effect. Or you may choose to expose somewhere between these two options. A tip is to bracket your exposures (it’s easy on all camera’s so  check your manual to do so), then review them quickly and choose the look you like. Then set your camera to the exposure compensation of your choice (again, it’s easy, just check the manual or Google it). So, you may have bracketed it at -1, 0 and +1 and chosen -1 as your best result, then you just flick your exposure compensation to -1. But remember to check your results often as the sun is setting (or rising) and the light is changing rapidly. Also, make sure you have the lens hood on to prevent unwanted flare.

I’d consider this the most effective photo of the series, and these are the camera settings I used: Nikon D750 camera; 400 mm fixed lens with a 1.4 teleconverter; shutter speed 1/200 sec; f 7,1; manual mode; pattern metering.