I wish I could make this post humorous and not at all technical, but unfortunately the title already tells you it might just be about the backgrounds in photos. Your subject may be clear-cut, but that is not always the whole story in an image according to professionals.
They say the background is an important player in making a pleasing image, and I very much agree. Backgrounds are both an opportunity and a challenge. They not only put the subject in context, but they also can overwhelm a subject or distract from it.
What if the background supports a subject in such a way that it is hard to crop out all the extra elements? Many non-professionals (such as myself) will often leave in elements not necessary to the story the image is trying to tell. If you can’t reframe a flighty subject, is that always a bad thing?
I could have shot the first image above tighter like the next two, but by combining different elements can also place the focus ON the subject. Making the background a solid color helps it from being too busy. Too many elements will lead the eye out of the image or away from the subject. It is always a consideration but then again, what is the subject?
Do you like the whole image or the cropped one? More flowers showing is kinda interesting too.
Where Color Makes the Difference
Above, I think the hint of extra flowers was just as interesting as the fly on one. The soft color is very important to this image.
Rules, Rules, Rules. Typical rules and options include:
- Be aware of your background.
- Simplify the background, by moving position, reframing or blurring it.
- Filling the frame and eliminating much of the background.
- Cropping the background to remove distractions.
- Frame both the subject and its background.
- Create your own background, like a whiteboard, making it go black or blowing it out with light.
- Post process the background.
I know I have a tendency to thumb my nose up at the rules on occasion. I also know it may not be good photography in doing so, but something tells my artistic side to just go with it and let it happen.
Which Do You Pick?
Every image in this post has the better, more carefully framed subject in another shot of the same subject. The sun glare washes out the subject below, but also adds something to the image. I find this busy image interesting in all its complexity.
Competing lines below (distracting or adding interest?).
Mottled or blurred light can make an interesting background. Using a wide aperture to blur the background was used below.
Busy scene below, yet pleasing colors in the next two images.
Which one is more interesting?
Are All Colors Good Together?
Competing color, orange and pink? I like the softness to this photo, almost like the Red Admiral landed in a bowl of popcorn. Competing color is usually not recommended. For some reason, this does not bother me, perhaps the gray background tones down the orange.
Do you follow the rules of photo composition? Or do you think as long as you like it is A-OK?
Next post is on isolating the subject. The tip is one many forget.