Photo of the Week: Contre-Jour

I love to shoot into the sun. Or to give it it’s grander name: contre-jour, French for ‘against the day’.

Typically, the rule of thumb is to keep the sun at your back so your subject is lit by it but I hope you have noticed by now, I don’t much care for typical. So why shoot into the sun? Let’s take this shot as an example.

Contre Jour

Firstly, not many people do it, so immediately that’s a box ticked. Then you get back lighting on the tyre smoke which amplifies it and with the trees in the background at Lydden Hill, you get shafts of light shining through it to add more interest. You also get the shadow of the car  in shot, giving it more weight and I really like to see highlights glinting on a car as I think it gives it more dimension.

So that’s the why, what about the how?

EXIF dataIt’s just a case of shooting as you normally would with some exposure compensation dialed in. So in this case I was in Shutter Priority mode as usual when I shoot motor sport. As this was one of the first images I took on the day, it was shot at 1/125th – a faster shutter speed than I generally use for panning but I get slower as a day goes on and I get into my groove. Being at  f11 doesn’t matter as the background and foreground are blurred nicely due to the motion so I’m not worried about not having a shallow depth of field and it makes sure the car is fully sharp.

What the EXIF doesn’t show is that I had one and a third stops of positive exposure compensation dialed in. Without this, the camera does it’s 18% grey thing and under exposes the whole scene. I’d be left with grey smoke and a very dark car.



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