Tip #39: Maintain a Clean Background Behind Your Subject

November 03, 2013  •  Leave a Comment

This tip applies nicely for wildlife, people, flowers or any other subject that would be in a portrait situation.

You want your viewer to look at the subject in your photo, not the distractions behind your subject. This can be accomplished by:

  1. moving your subject to a better background - say a solid wood side of a building rather than the clutter piling up behind the building
  2. shooting with a wide open aperture (f2.8, f4, etc) to give a smooth bokeh
  3. give some breathing room between the background and your subject - the more space the further the background is from your lens and the more blurred it will become
  4. crop in tighter

But you can't always move your subject, especially when it comes to photographing wildlife. Of course you can move your position and sometimes this will work. Unfortunately your wild subject might move as you move.

So remain patient and keep an eye out for the distractions.

Example of cluttered background that can work because it adds to the scene

The leaves behind the buck provide information that this photo was taken in fall, an important time of year for bucks as they go into the mating season. The wide open aperture for this photo (f6.3) helps blur the background and therefore reduce some of the clutter.

white-tailed_buck_13white-tailed_buck_13A white-tailed deer buck (Odocoileus virginianus) stands in front of a tree in fall colors on a foggy day at Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge in Commerce City, Colorado. Example of an uncluttered background to draw viewer's attention to the subject

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