Critique the Community

Submit Your Best "Backlit" Photograph

Critique the Community "Backlit" Edition
  • Submission Deadline: Tue, 11 Feb 20 03:45:00 +0000

    This contest has ended.

  • Voting is closed.

  • Congratulations to the winners!

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We want to see your best images that capture "Backlit" lighting for our next Critique the Community. 

Between now and February 12th, you may submit up to two of your best images that depict something "Backlit". We will be selecting a total of 20 images to give feedback to and two entrants will win a free Fstoppers original tutorial. The first winner will be decided by the highest average community rated image and the second will be chosen at random. Please note that we want to see high quality pictures and will probably overlook anything that looks like a snapshot. 

Once you've uploaded your submissions, we encourage you to scroll through everyone else's and give them ratings and comments of your own. Please keep feedback encouraging and helpful. 

  • Submission Deadline: Tue, 11 Feb 20 03:45:00 +0000

    This contest has ended.

  • Voting is closed.

  • 708 people have cast a total of 49,023 votes on 783 submissions from 510 contestants.
  • Congratulations to the winners!

    View Results


I don't care how my images are rated, though I feel like there are quite a few images here that deserve better votes. I know its all subjective, so I will just leave it at that.

I agree. A lot of these images are not even backlit. There are definitely some good ones in here though:)

There is a lot of interpretations of backlit that I had not expected, which is fun/cool :)

I have a really hard time rating images that are really really good but maybe don't necessary qualify for the contest? Is it a 4 or 5 because I really appreciate the photo? Or is it a one because is not really backlit? A good photo is still a good photo so.........yes, I am not telling you how I voted on those:)

I ended up only voting on pictures that I feel fit the theme :)

totally agree lots of great images that are not backlit

The answer to your question is if the image doesn't fit the contest then skip it and don't add a vote to it at all. That's what people should do instead of rating something a one because it doesn't fit the criteria. Right?

In complete agreement, especially as no one provides details on how else the image could look, but like they say "beauty is in the eye of the beholder." I love most of the images posted. Good work.

I would like to say I don't care, but it feels bad to have a community tell me, "Needs Work". I thought it would be fun to participate and interact with people, this is just demoralizing.

You posted the High-key picture of Cora right?

Yes, it's actually a silhouette. A comment mentioned that I had lost detail in the clothes, the light wrapped around the edges too much, and there wasn't enough front light. But there isn't any front light. If people are expecting a backlit image to look like a traditionally lit portrait then I don't know how to meet both their expectations and contest criteria.

Incidentally, the style is from a great backlighting tutorial by Hostettler photography (NSFW):

I would advise that you try to not take it too seriously, while still trying to learn as much as you can through critiques received via these contests. Remember that a good majority of people who vote on these images are not professional photographers. The 'take with a grain of salt' cliche sounds silly, but to an extent it's how I've always approached these. As a result I've had a ton of fun and also learned quite a bit (just had to learn how to separate the learning from the nonsense).

I'm realistic, I know ALL my work 'needs work' and I'm happy to have other photographers pick my images apart. It's all a learning process.

That being said a lot of really great images get pretty shocking ratings. The highest rated shot in every critique is usually barely above 3 stars.

It's all part of the fun.

So, one of my own pictures uses the same principles as yours did. Or rather that series does, the picture I entered is perhaps least representative of the technique in my own series.
So I know the principle of it, and have played with it myself, just I have worked with colored gels.

When I saw your photo I thought; "This is well done, well executed, but it reads like a High-key photo. I lose out on the bit that shows me that you are creating a backlight photo. So thats my two cents :)

I felt that at first, but it has been proven that pretty much no one gets a great score here. And so it inspires me to try harder to take a better photograph. Do that little extra. Be more persistant. I see my results improving too. So don't let these guys discourage you. I just figure a three here is a five anywhere else. Try for a three.

The ratings on here are ridiculously low. But at least consistently so.

I know that there are members that vote low purposely. Fine. If a photo I evaluate is in focus, it gets no lower than a 2. Why? Doing my part to counteract the dolts that vote low with a nefarious reason.

In the long history of humankind those who learned to collaborate and improvise most effectively have prevailed.
(Charles Darwin)

I think an issue is that people seem to be interpreting it as "Only backlit" when im seeing it more as the main light source that sets the mood. I wont vote low because it has more wrap around light, or an assisting light. So long as the main light, is a back lit. Im seeing a lot of strong side lighting though. That will get voted lower.

Doubt that "backlit" means that only images that have specific light coming from behind subject as an only option.Than it might as well be silhouette contest?
Backlit imho means any photo, that would have lighting coming behind subject, ether its directly from back or the side that would give a small rim light

Any way of deleting one of the two I uploaded? I uploaded the wrong image?

found it have to be done on a computer no option on phone

Open your entry, go to the comment icon and open it. In the top right corner of the page, you will find three dots. Click on them and you will find a delete option.

This does work on my phone.

It would be good if these images were moderated.. that way images that are nothing to do with the chosen subject can be deleted. It kinda ruins it a little and takes up a lot of time trying to view photos that deserve votes.

I totally agree.

Agreed, I've seen so many images that aren't backlit

Why not just click the Next button when your graceful awareness is threatened to be soiled by an off-topic image ?

Sorry GOD.

I love how the themes of these contests are very vague, it opens up the doors for a wide variety of interpretations. But backlit is backlit right?

I think rating a picture poorly because it doesn't fit the theme is not the right thing to do. If you don't think it fits the theme, just skip it. There are a lot pro photographers here, but there are a lot of beginners and mid-tier photographers, too. Are you going to discourage a promising emerging photographer submitting a good picture just because it doesn't fit the theme? Are you worried it will rate better than your own "on-theme" photo, so you give it a low rating? I think doing that is just petty.

If you are going to give a 2 star rate, please, photography guru, tell us what would you improve. Thnx.

Subjectivity relative to the viewers background - likes and dislikes. If every image was given an actual artistic critique - and the so called rules of photography were used to judge the images - most would top out at 1-1.5 stars. If you can’t handle a 1 Star or even a 2 star rating don’t enter the contest. I don’t have the time to comment on every image I rate. I go through the images and stop at the ones that immediately catch my eye. Those are the images I choose to rate. I enjoy the commentary and review of the submissions by The FStoppers and their guests. I also prefer submissions meet contest criteria.

Many of these photos would be perfectly at home in a travel magazine or photography book. There are excellent images here. I have rated a number of photographs both good and bad, and I have plenty of time to write a short comment with constructive feedback.

When you consider that 80-90 percent of the fstoppers community (wild guess based on the submissions in the contests) are not professional photographers but people who have found a passion in photography, but nonetheless people who care about photography enough to invest the time to watch the CtC videos, participate in the contests, don't you see how a one star rating can be insulting? By the official definition, a one star image is a snapshot, meaning no composition, no postprocessing.
I have yet to manage to submit a photo with a rating not below 2 stars, and yet all my photos are at least subject to careful postprocessing.

For my photo in this competition which I took explicitly for this contest, I got up at 5am on a Saturday, walked 3km into the apple gardens at -5°C, tore a hole in my warmest winter jacket when crawling under the tree to position the strobe light, and spent half an hour in Photoshop to get a BW picture with only the moonshine in color, meticulously masking out the branches over the moon in the colored layer. and yet it already got one 1-star rating with no doubt many to follow.

I am not saying that the photo doesn't need work. Myself, I'd rate the picture at 2 stars or at most 3 stars if I am in the right mood for this picture. But never I would consider 1 star because I can see the work put into this kind of picture.

I have the impression that people like you vote like this: first question: has the picture been taken by a professional photographer? no: 1 star. yes: ok let's take a closer look.

Maybe there should be two types of contests, one for professional photographers and one for hobby photographers ?

heard once "nobody cares how you got the apple, they only what to know where. What they don't know is you had to climb the highest tree to get it."
Someone always think they can do better.

Not sure why you have 3 thumbs down. This is exactly how i go through the rating. I wait until the deadline passes so all submissions are in then rate/comment on those that inspire me to rate and/or comment.

CtC is just a casual thing that should be fun. If it isn't an enjoyable experience - it is voluntary so don't continue on. I am more tired of the drama in every contest's comment stream then i am the low ratings and off topic entries (of which there are way too many hence the 'not enough time to comment on every entry). If there was as much effort critiquing the submissions as there is critiquing other people's opinions, this woud be a very different type of activity!

Why are there only a handful of backlit images. lol.

I think if anyone is going to be negative on a review or rating, they should comment why they put 3 or less stars...

I would agree with Michael. Unfortunately there is a fear of retribution. When I rate photos (good or not so good) I state why, whatever the rating is. I have had someone go through and rate my photos with a 1 star after having given what I felt was a fair and honest opinion of what I thought was a poor photograph. Now I have a tendency to not even rate it if I think it is a 1 or 2. Maybe the wording of the star definitions needs to change so it's not so harsh. Maybe the scale needs to be in 1/2 star increments so rating is a little more subtle. Maybe the reviewer should be given the option of identifying themself or not. Does anyone even read these comments to improve the site?

In principle, I agree with you but there are very many images and it's impossible to give feedback on all 2 star images. Having at least one or two in total that the community can up or down vote, would work.

Agree 100%

Does anyone else here just mentally add 1 to any of the ratings on these competitions to be a better fit for how things are generally rated on the site? As in, an image is rated 2.5, I just see it as a 3.5 outside of competition standards.

It's not a foolproof way of looking at the ratings but it saves getting shitty about the "low" numbers.

I do! No one should take these ratings to heart. If you actually want feedback or to get a feeling of the success of an image, post it in a group. That's where you'll get what your looking for. This is just for fun and to see others' work around the same topic. I think of these 'contests' as ways to get ideas and just enjoy the ways other people come at the same topic in different cool ways. I'd be ok if the ratings weren't even used! The guys pick 20 images and give feedback on whatever criteria they want (not a dig) so the ratings aren't needed and they certainly arent valid.

Exactly. If people are in it for the "contest" part, especially beginners, they will have a bad time IMO. The ratings don't mean anything to me really. Leaving constructive comments do, good and bad. I mostly just enjoy looking at images that catch my eye. I go through and rate my fave 3 and 4's to hopefully go back later and leave a comment. If I think a photo is a 1 or 2 and feel I can leave a helpful comment on improving it then I will. Otherwise, I pass it by as I don't have time to comment on everything. I also don't rate photos if they don't seem to meet the theme, especially if its a good photo. But again, the rating part isn't why I look, I look to see nice images and maybe I can help begs improve. Oh, and I'm also very inconsistent on even participating.

Just posted my first image. I think I walk the line with it- maybe its a little more back/side lit. But immediately after posting it I received a "snapshot" rating. Even if you think the image sucks completely the fact that I worked out the composition, the lighting and the editing makes the image NOT a snapshot. I looked through many of the other images and the ones that I have rated a "solid" or even an "excellent" have VERY low ratings. My conclusion? There are some very intimidated, threatened folks rating images. I wish they could implement a system where if you give image a two "needs work" or less you have to include a comment as to why you think that or what you think would improve the photo. Many of us are here to learn. Rating images low just because egos can't handle the pressure is childish. I know this is an ongoing problem but it seems to be extra... well EXTRA on this challenge.

There are people rating side lit images as one star throughout. I think side lit submissions are fair given the main image for the contest is mostly side lit. Some people are just pretentious. Some people are just insecure. You see them a lot on this site unfortunately.

In regards to your car photo, I would say that the composition is very nice. I do think it’s a bit too sharp, at least for my taste. I would tone down the contrast and saturation, soften the image, and it could be quite nice.

Your response is very helpful! Yes I don't normally add that much contrast. Trying things outside the box. All part of the learning process! I also don't normally do a lot of car images. So I'm not in an area I have much knowledge about. Thank you for your response!

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