• Dotty Molt

The beauty of backlighting

After our huge winter in the Sierra Nevadas, our expectations for a Super Bloom are quite high, if only the snow would melt. Some of my favorite locations are still under feet of snow, but at 6000 to about 7500 feet, the flowers are ready to pop open and shine their faces to the sky.

I hiked North Canyon Road from Spooner to Marlette yesterday, I'm predicting 7-10 days for the flowers to bloom, June 29 would be a good day to head out. There are patches of wildflowers in the sunniest locations, including this lovely grouping of larkspur which sat in full sun on my way up the trail, then partial shade on my way back. The first image below shows the subject in full sun zoomed to 73mm. I'd call this a point and shoot, the light wasn't optimal and I was simply documenting the flowers. In the second image the subject is in the shade while the others remained in the sun. The third is zoomed all the way in at 200mm, to soften the background as much as possible.

I'm not a technical shooter, I see the scene, walk into it, and stop thinking, looking for details, and adjusting the view in my camera until I like what I see. My results will differ from yours as well all have our own unique view of the world. When you learn how to capture what you see, using light to your advantage, your images will begin to take on their own personality. There's no right and wrong in art, just the technical ability to tell your story the way you see it.

Full sun, random arrangement, just a grouping on the side of the trail. f6.3 1/400 sec ISO 100 shot at 73mm from 2-3 feet back.

You can easily see the difference lighting makes in these images, photographing wildflowers is much like taking a portrait of a person, except you don't have to worry about blinking eyes and awkward expressions. There's also the element of arranging the scene, the flowers behind which are in the sun are lined up so that they're not right behind the subject.

A field of Larkspur, the subject in shade, backlit by the sunny meadow. The other flowers lined up to the right and fading into the background leading the eye into the image. Handheld, f6.3, 1/160 sec, ISO 100 zoomed in to 110 mm. Shot as close as possible and still fill the screen with the entire Larkspur

f 6.3 1/80 sec ISO 100 at 200 mm to completely soften the background.

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