Here’s an interesting case of finding a photo opportunity in a somewhat unexpected scenario. I was out for a short walk around Theta Pond in the afternoon when I came across this…uh…plant? I don’t know what it is, but there’s a lot of them around the pond here at OSU and I’m no botanist as you probably know by now. Anyway, the scene was altogether unremarkable, except for one interesting twist: the sun was already getting low on the horizon which made for a unique mix of colors and light.

Normally when I’m taking pictures I tend to put myself between the light source and my subject, but in this case I did the opposite. By positioning the subject (i.e. this withering, brown, and mostly unremarkable leaf) between my camera the the light source (i.e. the sun) it created a neat effect where it almost seems like the leaf is glowing. I didn’t think about this at first, mind you, and it was only after a few minutes of playing around with different compositions that I stumbled across this particular angle and figured I would give it a try.

The first thing I did was put my camera (in this case, my Fuji X100F) in RAW instead of JPG because I figured I would need the leeway when editing. Then I had to figure out what to shoot and how to shoot it. I realized that if I got down low, shot at f/2.8, and tried to compose the shot in such a way that there would be a bit of foreground as well as background, it might look interesting. I put the leaf slightly off center and I think the end result works quite well. To give you an idea of what I was working with I returned a few hours later on my way home from work and took a picture after the sun had gone down a bit farther. You can see it below, and the leaves in the shot above are circled in red.

Pretty boring, eh? I guess it just goes to show how much of a difference lighting can make when taking photos. And I would challenge you to keep this in mind as well, especially at times of the year such as winter (for those of us in the northern hemisphere, that is) when the sun is often much lower on the horizon compared to the summer months. You might find that otherwise ordinary scenes become transformed into rich photographic opportunities.


  1. I always look forward to your posts and I was not
    disappointed. To see the leaf backlit is so beautiful but when you showed the other photo of it, nothing. It is good to remember to get close to your subject and get out there when the light is just right! It makes such a huge difference. Thank you!

    • Thanks Ann! I’m glad you enjoy these photos and it really is interesting how a bit of a change in perspective can have such a big impact on an image.

  2. So beautiful Simon! Thank you for sharing the “how to” behind this radiant shot. I have recently discovered the magic of back-lighting in my garden especially in the fall/winter when there’s very little to photograph out there.
    – Marites

    • That’s really cool, Marites! Normally I like to avoid backlighting but I think it’s just because I don’t always think about creative ways to use it. I’m sure you have gotten some really nice shots in your garden using this technique, and your example shows that just because you might not think there is much to shoot doesn’t mean that you can’t be creative and figure something out :)

  3. Ashok Viswanathan says

    Beautiful snap and excellent post on how you got it, Simon. Thank you for helping me understand how to think with light when it is behind the object. I struggle with it and get silhouettes. One other thing I realize is, seeing everything from my height of 1.84m, isn’t always a good idea :). Thank you again for the learning and sharing.


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