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Help With Rejections - Backlit

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  • Help With Rejections - Backlit

    Hi Guys,

    I have recently had a couple of photos rejected for being “Backlit”

    This is the first time I have had images rejected for this reason, and I have to admit I am unsure of the meaning of it or how to prevent it. When taking the photos the sun wasn’t directly in front of me.

    Could any other photographers or the screeners have a look at them and explain to me the reasoning behind it? It’s not that I question the decision; I just don’t have the knowledge to understand why they are back lit.

    Thank you all for your time in advance.


  • #2
    Below is a copy from the guidelines of

    Before you start to upload pics, you have to read it.

    Don't take pictures with the sun in your eyes-the sun is there for many purposes one of which is to give us light with which to see things, shooting against the sun puts the visible half of the aircraft in shadow which means we can't see it to its advantage. There are some airports which suffer badly from backlit pictures, Manchester, Frankfurt, Atlanta and Brisbane are the most popular ones at this site but all airports produce backlit shots from time to time. Zurich for example has excellent facilities for photographers but the viewing deck becomes backlit in the afternoon so whether you are at Zurich or Brisbane or Atlanta the thing to remember is that you need to move to a spot with the sun at your back because if you upload backlit shots they will be rejected. An exception to this is when the photographer is creating a sunset/sunrise type at which time the vivid colors and weak sunlight produce very pleasing results-properly executed dusk and dawn shots are always welcome but please don't flood us with such images because they are very difficult to get right.

    The best solution: go to the opposite site of the runway

    Good luck



    • #3
      First of all, very nice shots! not only those two but I was checking your shots in the db too

      regarding this shot, it is backlit if you compare it to a similar shot of yours, at least in my monitor



      • #4
        Actually, imho, I don't think these pictures are backlit.

        The inside of the engines are well lit, just as the landing gear, which means that the sun is coming from the front (photogs left side) and not from behind the aircraft (photogs front side). All details are visible and well defined. I would say they are nice and sharp action shots and you got a bit unlucky that both have been rejected.



        • #5
          Very unfortunate. Both are nice pictures, well in focus with good depth of field....but unfortunately the visible sides and tailfin in both are in shadow which comes out as backlit.

          I say "unfortunately" because these are classic examples of a borderline decision as evidenced by the fact that in both cases one screener accepted and two rejected.

          I've looked at both for some minutes in each case. I've closed them and re-opened them and looked again and have to personally agree in the end with the backlit rejection decision. Unfortunately, ( that word again !! ), we have to draw a line somewhere. If there had been significant reflected light from the left wing or indeed the left side ( of the aircraft ) onto the fuselage to put some interest into the shaded fuselage then the decision may well have been different. Failing that then an appeal may well have been accepted given recent decisions. An appeal is not ruled out either !

          It really hurts me to agree with the decision as all the other deciding factors such as focus, depth sharpness, angle interest and general good postprocessing are there.

          The deciding factor, though, remains. The entire visible side and fin are in shadow...and that means backlit according to the rules. A real shame. Someone should have a word with God about where He puts the sun !
          If it 'ain't broken........ Don't try to mend it !


          • #6
            Shame, as they are nice, and I would have gone with them personally.
            Last edited by Eadster; 2008-06-21, 02:22.


            • #7
              Unfortunately in both shots the nose is overexposed, which I would see as being the only technical flaw in the photos. I love it when the light is shining directly into the intakes!


              • #8
                Many thanks to everyone for their help and kind comments

                Brian - Many thanks for taking the time to go into depth and explain to me why these photos have been rejected. Your help and time taken on the matter is really appreciated.

                All the best,


                • #9
                  I would suggest an appeal. Technicaly they could be considered as backlit, but the light falling into the engine warrants to accept the pics imho.


                  • #10
                    I would suggest an appeal. Technicaly they could be considered as backlit, but the light falling into the engine warrants to accept the pics imho.
                    Yup, me too.
                    If it 'ain't broken........ Don't try to mend it !


                    • #11
                      I'd appeal the second one (the nose it's not overexposed by the way).
                      in this pic, there's a thin line separating what is technically correct and what should be in database having some flaws.

                      in my opinion....

                      Will I ever repeat this?


                      • #12
                        Ahh, Mr Spalding you big WAC!

                        Not that my opinion really counts for much, but these are difficult photos to make a decision on because they really are so incredibly borderline. They're technically excellent in every respect (as is usually the case for your work these days), but I would probably consider them a little too front lit and I think the general contrast of the image suffers a little as a result. I think there’s a chance they might be saveable with a bit of editing by softening the lighting at the front then increasing the brightness of the whole image.

                        You can see in the histogram of the original image the nose is slightly over-exposed.

                        So what we really want to do first is darken that area. You can use the shadows/highlights tool for this but I prefer using another method…

                        Open the image in PS, copy the background layer and invert it (CTRL I)

                        In the top of the layers palate once you've inverted, change the blending mode to 'darken', then reduce the opacity to around 16%. Basically what you’re doing here is creating a negative of your image so the darks appear light and the lights appear dark, then by changing the layer blending mode to darken you’re allowing the negative to show through where it’s darker than the original, and so it has the effect of reducing the highlights. Simply adjust the layer opacity to change how much you reduce the highlights by. The areas where the negative is lighter than the original remain unaffected.

                        Because the highlights are now reduced we’re left with quite a dull looking photo, so use Levels to brighten getting the triangle so it almost touches the bright peak of the nose. You can see from the histogram that the nose is still hot but it isn’t actually blown out.

                        And a comparison of the two…

                        Whether that makes it slightly more likely to be accepted or not is entirely up to the screeners, but I’d say it has a slightly better chance because the effect of the front lighting isn’t quite so dramatic. They're so borderline that even the slightest of improvements may push it more in favour of being accepted. I also added another +8 on the saturation to give it a little more impact.

                        Whether you want to appeal the rejected photos or re-upload using this technique is entirely up to you, but I'd be tempted to try balance the light a little more so the difference between the nose and the rest of the fuselage isn't quite so much. In the originals my eye was instantly drawn to the slightly over-exposed spot on the nose rather than to any other part of the image. Think of it in musical terms... If you're watching a band and the rhythm guitar is twice as loud as the keyboard, your ears are naturally drawn to the loudest part of the sound and you don't notice the rest of it so much. In this case, you see the nose but only really see the other qualities of the image (of which there are many) if you really look. It might be worth experimenting with a few shots before you appeal and seeing what you come up with. Obviously you'll get far higher quality results by applying this to your originals than I have here.

                        Incidentally, that technique of reducing highlights can also be used to reduce shadows. Just do exactly the same, but set the layer blending mode to 'lighten' instead of 'darken'.

                        Hope that helps mate, if you need any more of that explaining you know you can drop me a text anytime or catch me on MSN.

                        See you either at MAN or in Brizzle sometime soon!

                        Paul (Ted)
                        Last edited by PMN; 2008-06-27, 17:23.
                        Seeing the world with a 3:2 aspect ratio...

                        My images on Flickr


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by gatto-777
                          I'd appeal the second one (the nose it's not overexposed by the way).
                          My eyes and Paul's very impressive post beg to differ!


                          • #14
                            Adam you also have my sympathy , these are good pictures and I wouldn’t hesitate to give them a hit.

                            I cant tell if you have just lost the sun here or it is about to come into the right place but either way the shots you got when the sun was on your side will no doubt have been even better. I guess you will get the chance to return to this spot and have another go with the sun in the right place and when you do, perhaps you will be relieved that your new shots do not get the “bad double” rejection as a result of these two being accepted today! Photography can be, oh so frustrating!

                            For those who might be interested, the following is a link to a web site which will tell you where the sun will be at any place in the world at any time. You can then work out which side of a runway you need to be. Useful for visiting unfamiliar airports when you need to plan ahead.