Have You Tried Rim Lit Photography?

Michael Laubscher All Authors, Michael Leave a Comment

The beauty of very early morning or nighttime photography is that one can get very creative with the low light and deep shadows that is available.

One thing I always try to capture is a rim lit subject; it can be tricky and usually works best with hairy animals. It takes some practice but is well worth it once you start capturing some very dramatic looking images.

During morning and daylight hours I usually photograph on aperture priority on evaluative metering. To achieve rim lit images during these times you need to be shooting into the sun and I make use of exposure compensation in the camera. Exposure compensation is truly a game changer and I highly recommend you read up on this topic a bit. Alternatively you can change to spot metering and find focus on the brightest part of the “rim” but this will take longer to set up.




I wrote a blog on the metering modes, you can go check it out if you wish to learn more about that.

These are some images I took during day light hours/early mornings and by underexposing quiet a bit to keep the dark or shadowed areas dark.

As soon as the blanket of darkens cover us and the use of the spot light comes into play, I flick to manual mode and now metering will not really play a role anymore and you just have to understand the light meter.

The light meter is a readout that shows whether these values (your settings) are going to result in your photo being properly exposed, in the above example, the photo is neither too light or too dark. The small triangle hovering over the zero in the light meter shows that the exposure is correct, and when the shutter button is pressed the picture will look fine.

For the purpose of this blog, when doing rim lit photography at night with a spot light, your light meter, the little triangle, will not be on zero anymore but would have moved far into the negatives because of all the extreme dark areas in the frame. You are photographing the scene wanting the end result to be a rim lit photo so this negative light meter is normal.

Here are some rim lit images I took making use of a spot light at night.

As with everything in life, the only way you will perfect this is by practicing!

Capturing images like this is a fun, creative and rewarding thing. It’s also challenging especially when it comes to the focusing because you working with limited light so focusing could be tricky. Try and find focus on the brightest area of the subject and if you still struggling, simply switch to manual focus.

Now head out there, learn, keep practicing and most of all, have fun!!

Until next time,

Happy snapping!!


About the Author

Michael Laubscher


Haunted by the allure of spectacular wildlife and African sunsets. I am a hunter-gatherer of natural light and candid moments, an appetite whet with a taste of the unknown and the smell of home; “This Is Africa”! I look forward to sharing life long experiences with you and helping you capture them. Please feel free to go check out my Instagram account

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