Ever had an amazing sighting or photographic opportunity but the sun was low in the sky and right behind your subject?

We as guides do our best to get you in the best possible position to capture your images, however it is not always possible. I have heard and seen this many times with my guests saying…."If it wasn't for the sun behind it I could get a picture" and generally it has been in conditions that I don't mind at all. My advice?? Go with it!

These pictures, whilst not everyone's cup of tea, can be very pleasing to look at and quite unique compared to the rest of the images you will take. They can however be hard to get, as your camera will generally struggle a bit.

The first thing you may have to do is manually focus. Why is this? Because your camera's autofocus works by sensing contrast in an object. The problem with this type of lighting is there isn't really much contrast to work with. This is also the reason why you may need to add a small amount of contrast to the picture in post editing.


Once you have found your subject and focused on it manually, you are ready to go. One thing you will notice by looking through your viewfinder, is that there will most likely be a lens flare. This is nothing to do with how good your gear is or how good you are as a photographer so don't be put off by it. A lens flare is simply light bouncing around in your lens as it is generally not supposed to be aimed straight at a light source. You will notice that by moving the camera around, the flare will also move around and become stronger or weaker.

In these next three images you can see the effect of moving your lens. These were three images in a sequence of Maxabeni walking in front of the sun. You can see how the flare gets stronger as he gets more and more in line.




This is a simple but beautiful technique to add something warm and new to your portfolio….why not try it for yourselves?!

Gear and Settings


Canon 5dmk3

Canon 500mm f/4

ISO 3200

Aperture f/4

Shutter 1/2500

Maxabeni 1, 2, 3

Canon 5dmk3

Canon 500mm f/4

ISO 1600

Aperture f/4

Shutter 1/800

Bring your creativity to life.

Lance van de Vyver

backlighting part 2


For the most part the best positioning for a photograph is when the sun is behind you and low on the horizon lighting your subject up in golden light. But we can flip this all the way around and put that beautiful golden light behind your subject and use this light to create a golden mood and silhouette around the animal.

For this particular photo, the dust from a thousand buffalo walking had become the perfect filter for the golden light of the setting sun. I positioned the sun off to the right of the frame so as not to blow any areas out as I wanted the buffalo correctly exposed in the image. I also waited for the one buffalo to walk along the top of the dam wall to get an eye level angle of the animal and also to allow some of the herd behind him to be in the picture so the viewer would get the idea of a herd.

I was using a Nikon D3s with a Nikkor 80-400mm lens. The shutter speed was 1/320th of a second at an aperture of f5.6. In order to get a fast enough shutter speed I had pushed my ISO to 640. I then did a little bit of post-production in lifting some of the shadows, adding a little contrast, dropping the highlights and pushing the saturation up to enhance the golden glow. Any post-production I did was in order to achieve an accurate representation of what my eye saw.

Expose your balance

Richard de Gouveia

Click To Enlarge Image

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