Backlighting refers to lighting in a photograph that comes from behind an object. Because backlighting requires a subtle manipulation of a scene’s light, photographers consider it a more advanced technique to master. When effectively implemented in a scene, however, backlighting can enhance the finer details of an object (such as the tiny hairs on bug) or a scenes more delicate features (such as the dust particles or drops of mist in a given background).
Oftentimes, backlighting comes from ambient light around the subject of the photograph.
Some experts recommend using a lens hood when trying to enhance the effects of backlighting in photographs. Such a hood can significantly reduce the glare involved when pointing a camera directly into light. Similarly, aperture settings should be set on the shorter side to limit light and reduce the chances of overexposing the film.
If too much light does enter the lens when a photographer is trying to use backlighting, the image will lose definition. Ironically, the use of backlighting can either enhance or diminish the definition and intricacy of a photo, whether or not it is used correctly.
Backlighting is most commonly used in nature and landscape shots. If a photographer uses backlighting in a portrait shot, they are generally trying to add a more dramatic, intense mood to the scene.