Backlight: Our Favorite Reader Photos from the Picture This Assignment


John Larsen captured this image of a pilot inside an inflating hot air balloon with an Olympus OM-1 film camera loaded with Fuji Provia film. The balloon is backlit by the sunrise, Larsen notes.
© John Larsen

Backlit subjects can be tricky to deal with which is why we were so impressed with the terrific entries for this month’s “Backlight” Picture This! assignment. We were looking for images where backlight or strong directional light danced with the subject and boy did we get them. From unique uses of sunrises and sunsets to spotlight a silhouetted subject, to plays of light through fog, morning rays through a window, and many beautiful backlit scenes of nature, readers posted some fantastic images on for this assignment. Here is a selection of 10 of our favorite backlit images.

Rising At The House Of The Sun
“This was taken at 6:21 am, at 10,023 feet on top of the 1.1-million-year-old shield volcano Haleakala, or House of the Sun,” Krishna Gupta writes. “Watching the sun rise over the clouds was truly a majestic, awe-inspiring event and well worth the 1:30 am wake-up time.” The image was shot with a Canon EOS 5D Mark III and a Canon EF 70-200mm at 70mm; 1/1000 sec, f/11, ISO 100.
© Krishna Gupta

Toward The Light
“The light pouring into the hallway of a school offered the perfect opportunity to frame and expose for an abstract composition,” photographer Larry Johnson says about this dreamy black-and-white image. He shot it with a Canon EOS 60D and a Canon EF 28-105mm lens set at 105mm. ISO speed was 2500, and the exposure was 1/200 sec at f/8.
© Larry Johnson

Foggy Morn
Photographer Jim Liestman captured this early morning fog shot with the sun backlighting the trees using a Nikon D700 and a Sigma 70mm lens. Exposure is f/8 with an ISO of 200 and shutter speed of 1/8000 sec. The exposure bias is -1.5. “There was a heavy fog in the morning so I just drove around near my home looking for possible pictures,” Liestman recalls. “I liked the shape of these three bare trees with the sun rising above them.”
© Jim Liestman

Photographer Diego Lapetina summed up this gorgeous image succinctly: “Just trying to capture nature at its best.” He did just that.
© Diego Lapetina

From The Woods
“This is a capture of the Army’s basic training graduating class of October 3, 2014,” Adarryll Jackson Sr. writes. “This moment happened the morning before graduation, as a part of Family Day. Colored smoke bombs were tossed, and then the trainees appeared from beyond the woods. This is only but a small number of the hundreds of graduates that appeared from the woods. My son was a member of this graduating class of trainees.”
© Adarryll Jackson Sr

Golden Hour Surfer
Sal Ahmed captured this classic sunset shot “during a beautiful day in Tacoma, Washington, at Titlow Beach.” The camera used was a Sony Alpha 77 with a Tamron 70-300mm lens attached. Focal length was 90mm at f/16, with shutter speed at 1/125 sec, and ISO 800.
© Sal Ahmed

Window Light
“I captured my husband standing in the light of a window at an old mission in San Juan, Puerto Rico,” Taressa Troxell writes about this backlit photo. It was shot with a Sony Alpha 77 and an 18-55mm lens at 18mm, f/4. ISO was 640 and the image was captured at 1/160 sec.
© Taressa Troxell

Grand Canyon Evening Light
This spectacular image was shot by Keith Bozeman late in the evening at the Desert View overlook area in Grand Canyon National Park. “There was a fire in the area during the time of our visit,” he recalls. “The smoke from the fire created a haze in the canyon. As the sun continued to sink, the light beams that you see began to form.” Bozeman used a Canon EOS 6D with a 17-40mm lens on a Gitzo tripod with a Bogen ball head. The lens was triggered by a cable release at 1/60 sec, f/16, ISO 100.
© Keith Bozeman

Nature’s Fan
Lorenzo Cassina photographed this palm leaf in the botanical gardens at Flamingo Gardens in Davie, Florida. He used a Nikon D80 and a Sigma 70-300mm lens; 1/320 sec, f/5, ISO 250.
© Lorenzo Cassina

Picture This! – Our Next Assignment
Low-Light Noir

For our next assignment, we want you to go all dark and moody and share images that recall classic “film noir” movies. For those readers who skipped Cinema Appreciation class, film noir is a French term used to describe stylish Hollywood crime dramas from the 1940s and ’50s. But we don’t need crime scenes (necessarily). Here’s what you should shoot for: gritty, high-contrast images, preferably in black and white, captured in low-light conditions. Of course, color photos are fine, too, but make them shadowy and mysterious: think Edward Hopper, not Walt Disney. Film grain effects or even digital noise are encouraged, just as long as it suits the subject.

Dark Stallion
I shot this image with a Nikon D3S during rehearsals for the Big Apple Circus in New York City. The horse appeared out of the mist like some phantom and I was able to capture several shots without the animal’s trainer in the frame. Later I converted the color photo into black and white using Nik Silver Efex Pro 2, making it even more mysterious and dreamlike than it originally was.
© Dan Havlik

How To Submit Online
1. Go to and register. Scroll down the page and on the right side you will see a box for entering your username and your password. If you have already registered and/or submitted images for the Galleries you can skip this step. Respond to the activation e-mail. Registration is free. You will use your username and password whenever you visit or, with some systems, it will automatically load for you when you visit

2. Check the assignment and closing dates in the magazine. When the magazine is printed we will create an appropriate gallery for your images. The limit is two images per assignment.

3. Select and prepare your images. We only accept files at a maximum 2MB size, JPEG format. Save the JPEG at a quality level of 10 or higher. Note that file size in your image folder directory will determine upload size, not the “opened” file size, as JPEG compresses at 1:4 at higher quality ratings. If your images do not load it probably means you have exceeded the file size or have not used JPEG format.

4. Click on the Galleries tab on the homepage. In the Category section use the drop-down menu to select the Picture This! assignment. Note that images are simultaneously loaded into the assignment category as well as your own personal gallery. When the Picture This! assignment deadline date has lapsed the assignment gallery will be removed, but your images will still reside in your own gallery.

5. In the Description box add title, camera, lens, exposure information, and your full name. Also add any other comments or anecdotes you think relevant. We reserve the right to edit comments as needed.

6. Click the Save button at the bottom of the page. This uploads the image.

7. You retain copyright on the image.

8. We will choose the images after close of the due date.

9. Please feel free to comment on images submitted by other readers.

Please Note: If the photograph includes a minor or a recognizable individual or group you are guaranteeing that you have a signed model release form, and especially a parental or guardian release form for minors. You should keep a copy of that release in your files. Scan that release and keep it handy. If an image is chosen for publication, failure to provide a form when requested will eliminate the image from consideration. You can find release forms at and other resources on the Internet. By uploading images you attest that the model release form is valid, that any depiction of a person is with their consent, that you have a model release form available on request, and that all images you submit have been made by you.

Deadline For Submission: February 1, 2015.
Images will appear in our May 2015 issue.

Our Next Topic: Fine Art
Deadline: March 1, 2015
Publication Date: June 2015

Please Note: By submitting you agree to give us the right to show the image(s) on the web and for publication. You give us publication rights in the magazine and on the website(s) of Source Interlink Media.

Want to see images selected for past picture this! Assignments? Go to and click on picture this! In the “more articles…” box on the homepage.

If you have any questions or problems e-mail us at with Picture This! in the subject line.