52 Projects – Week 1: Creating a Backlit Picture

52 Projects – Week 1: Creating a Backlit Picture

This post launches 52 weeks of digital photography projects!  As I mentioned on my [previous post – 1/14/18], I needed inspiration during the winter months. I needed ideas for photography without freezing! So, I purchased 52 Weekend Digitial Photo Projects.

The first project I completed was the first winter project (the book is arranged seasonally) – Creating a Backlit Picture (pp. 158-159). I’m not sure what genre this technically is, probably an abstract or maybe a still-life, but it was fun to shoot!

As an academic, I am highly sensitive to plagiarism. I respect the photographers and authors of this book too much to rip off their work.  After all, they guided me through this process. I want you to go buy their book and join me in the process.  Thus, I am not going to roll out free what these folks worked hard to publish.

I do, however, want to share how I deviated from the book.  In this photo, I used a yellow hair gel, not the green gel that the authors suggest. Also, I have a glass table, when worked out perfect to back-light the subject.

Not counting the stuff I already had in my man cave, this shoot cost me a grand total of $7.86 – great for a broke photographer, like me!


One of my additions to the shoot that was not suggested in the book was overlaying the desk lamp with clear, color notebook dividers. I shot with various colors over the lamp, which gave an interesting fill color, but in the end, the best photos were with only the lamp back lighting the subject.


Here is the finished product!

52 Projects - Shoot 2-8008
Photo by Dr. Lee Reese

I learned four things from this little project. First, aperture is important. Even though the subject was quite thin, going with an aperture of f/8 up to f/14 worked the best. The edges were not sharp at f/1.8.

Second, I should have turned off the overhead light. It created a reflection on the surface of the subject, and the use of the notebook dividers might have turned out better if the overhead light was not on.

Third, as I said above, the notebook dividers did not work well.  over the light didn’t really work out that great. (show a couple of pictures)

Finally, I have to admit something. I love being outdoors, hiking, and photography. I truly enjoy nature and landscape photography. On cloudy days, I love driving into downtown Atlanta and taking high-contrast, black-and-white photos of architecture. So, still life and close-up photos of abstracts were not on my radar. I needed a creative outlet, but I honestly didn’t expect to enjoy my first shoot this much. I enjoyed the planning, setup, and processing. This little project helped prepare me for other projects that I am excited to share with you later!

I recommend purchasing this little book and having some fun!

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