Tutorial: Two Ways to Edit a Backlit Image

Tutorial: Two ways to edit an outdoor, backlit image in Lightroom | Brit Chandler Photography

For me, summertime and backlighting just go hand in hand. I typically use my Sunkissed Presets for quick edits, but I wanted to show two different ways to edit a backlit image. Depending on the haze, I will either choose to do a high contrast edit, and filter out the haze, or I will embrace the haze and enhance it.

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This SOOC (above), has a moderate amount of haze, so the image could really go either way.

First up, is the hazy edit.

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I start with a graduated filter, and use the settings above.

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I applied it horizontally, in the same direction that the light is shining from the trees in the top right corner. The heaviest application of the filter is also in the top right corner, and gets lighter gradually, hence the name of the filter 

I then boost the highlights and the blacks to enhance the haze. I turn the clarity down a bit to give a dreamy look.

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Because of the haze, I decided to go with a matte look as well. I used the curves to give this effect.

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I lightened the red and orange for better skin tones, and lightened the yellow, green, and aqua to keep the light colors for the haze effect.

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Next, I used split toning to add some warmth to my highlights.

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I also added a little bit of pink to my shadows.

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I lightened the vignetting, which lightened the top right corner even more, which is where the haze starts.

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I added a radial filter with these settings, and then inverted the mask so only the inside of the filter was effected.

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I applied the filter in the same direction as the light, just like the graduated filter.

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Here is the before and after :)

Next, the high contrast edit. This is a much quicker edit.

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These are my basic settings when adding a high contrast edit to a backlit image. I boosted the contrast, removed some highlights, took down the blacks, and boosted the clarity and vibrance.

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In the Tone Curve, I added a medium contrast point curve.

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Under luminance, I increased orange for skin tones, and then decreased yellow, green, aqua and blue to add a rich pop to those colors.

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Here is the before and after for the high contrast edit. Which edit do you prefer?

Thanks for reading! xoxo

Brit