How to improve your backlit images in Lightroom

Mastering beautifully backlit photos takes some practice with both shooting and editing. Even if your backlit shots are near perfect in camera, you will, most likely, still want to make some minor adjustments in Lightroom to really make your backlit images pop. Here are a few quick tricks to do just that!

This is my original image straight out of the camera:

It isn’t too bad, but I think it can use a little boost, for sure.

First, I’m making adjustments to the Contrast and Exposure. Backlit images tend to be overexposed in areas, so reducing the exposure slightly will bring back details in your highlights. 

You’ll also want to boost your Contrast a bit, too. Backlit images are often hazy, so boosting the Contrast will compensate for that. 

Next, I’m adding a Graduated Filter to the bottom right of the image, near the flower. This is your Graduated Filter icon: 

I dragged the GF from the bottom right, all the way to the top left, and made sure my filter was spread out evenly so that the gradient wouldn’t be choppy, but would blend with the rest of the image:


Since the GF is primarily affecting the flower area/bottom right corner only, once again, I reduced the Exposure and upped the Contrast. I also darkened the Shadows to -15 to add even more contrast, and then reduced the Clarity to -18 so that the image wouldn’t be too sharp in this area, but retain its hazy quality:

Next, I added another GF, but this time I started at the top left of the image, dragging it towards the bottom right, and ending at the top/middle portion of the flower. This GF will enhance the hazy light coming in at the top of the image:

On this filter, I moved my Temp towards yellow (51) in order to warm up the light. I also boosted the Exposure, and, once again, reduced the Clarity to -18 for the same reason I did above:

Finally, I made an overall, global adjustment to the White Balance of the entire image, pulling my sliders towards Yellow (Temp) and Green (Tint):

This is the Before + After of my original and my edit:

As you can see, it is still backlit and hazy, just a touch warmer and definitely more “poppy!”