Shooting Against the Light: Using Translucence

 

When light passes through a semi-transparent subject, it transforms it into something that is extraordinarily beautiful.

The midday sky often forms a perfect backdrop for colourful tree canopies. Exposure: Details not available Photograph/ Krishnakumar Muppathadam

The midday sky often forms a perfect backdrop for colourful tree canopies. Exposure: Details not available Photograph/ Krishnakumar Muppathadam

How to Achieve it
Of all backlighting techniques, shooting translucence is among the easiest. The key to great pictures of translucent subjects is to ensure that the colours stand out. Simple colour combinations with one hue dominating the scene, usually work best. To ensure that you get strong colours, all you need to do is to use the Vivid colour setting in your compact camera or DSLR. Shoot using the default Metering mode of the camera. Let the subject fill the frame and release the shutter. In certain situations, you may need to underexpose the image from the metered value, to make the colours more saturated. You can do this by using the Exposure Compensation button (+/-) of your camera.

Darkened interiors with light streaming in from windows or doorways can offer great photo opportunities. Exposure: 1/30sec at f/4.9 (ISO 100)

Darkened interiors with light streaming in from windows or doorways can offer great photo opportunities. Exposure: 1/30sec at f/4.9 (ISO 100) Photograph/ Siva Nadarajah

Subjects That Will Work Well
Keep an eye out for both colour and texture. Leaves and flowers work extremely well as translucent subjects and they can be found anywhere. Stained glass windowpanes inside a church or a monument can also give interesting results. Try photographing dupattas or free-flowing drapes of dancers during a performance.

Translucence caused by direct rays of sunlight often lets you expose for a nicely saturated background. Exposure: 1/800sec at f/14 (ISO 400) Photograph/Arghya Chatterjee

Translucence caused by direct rays of sunlight often lets you expose for a nicely saturated background. Exposure: 1/800sec at f/14 (ISO 400) Photograph/Arghya Chatterjee

Try This
Objects like bottles, containers, coloured paper or even jellies, syrups and ice cubes can make fascinating subjects for shooting against the light. Start by practising with window light and then try artificial light like simple tungsten lamps.

To read more about backlighting techniques, click here.

This article originally appeared in the March 2013 issue of Better Photography.

Tags: Shooting Technique, Chandni Gajria, leaves, translucent