Background Pictures and Photography Background Images
Background pictures and background photography has always presented a challenge for digital photography beginners. The photography background can steal attention away from the subject and distract viewers if care is not taken. However, background disturbance can be avoided if certain steps are taken.
Basic Photography Techniques
It is worth reviewing some basic photography techniques that apply to every subject before looking at the photography background. Equipment and experience are fundamental to creating great pictures as well as the background. Combining these factors effectively will improve the standard of your photography and take it to a new level.
Review Your Camera
Taking your photography to the next level is often a matter of buying a better camera. Simply upgrading to a camera with more megapixels could also improve the quality of your images.
Read the Camera Instruction Manual
Reading the instruction manual to your camera seems so obvious but many people fail to even think of this. Understanding your camera is the key to creating better photographs and it is essential to read the instructions, even if your camera does not have a huge range of options.
You might find some useful features you never knew you had by simply taking the time to read the instructions. For example, many digital cameras have a function for shooting close pictures such as flowers which is very useful for optimising the background pictures.
It is often useful to read your manual and then test the features you have just read about. Through this, you may discover what the camera can do to maximise the quality of your images.
The easiest way to improve your photography skills is to take more photographs. The more photographs you take, the more you learn about photographic composition. Always take your camera with you wherever you are during the day and try shooting pictures of your surroundings. Take pictures of nature and experiment to discover what works and what doesn’t. If an image doesn’t come out the way you wanted, try to return and re-take the photograph to improve it.
These basic photography tips also apply when optimising background pictures.
- Consider how subjects are arranged within the picture frame.
- Experiment with different lighting sources, intensity and try light coming from many directions.
- Try shooting the subject close and from a distance with and without the zoom.
- Attempt photographing the subject at different levels; eye height, low down, etc.
- Attempt off-centre subjects, such as bridges to experiment with results.
Do all the above and then consider the background images. Remember that a cluttered photography background can ruin any image.
Tips for Better Background Pictures
Good background pictures can put a subject in context and highlight it to make it stand out. However, bad background photography can suffocate the subject and ruin the image. After applying the basics highlighted above, follow these steps to really make your photography background work for you.
Move the Subject
Sometimes a photography background seems perfect for a composition until the subjects are placed inside the frame. When the subjects look awkward try moving them around to see if the picture looks right. The whole look and feel of the picture can sometimes be transformed simply by moving the subject.
This is an easy technique to try and is very effective when taking a portrait. When the subject moves to either side, a distraction can be places out of shot or behind the focal point.
Sometimes the subject of a photograph can’t be moved but it may be possible to change the angle from which the image is taken. In these situations, try to move around the subjects, circling them and taking a picture from higher and lower positions.
The ground becomes the image background when taking the picture slightly higher and any distractions are eliminated above the horizon.
Taking the picture from a different angle can help to present a different perspective of your subject and eliminate awkward background images.
Check the Background First
This should be obvious but many photographs are spoiled by not paying attention to the surroundings. Many mistakes can be easily avoided by checking the background before taking the photograph.
Things to look out for are colours that are out of place with the composition, distractions, clashing lines are people that don’t belong in the picture.
- Eliminate Distractions – Ensure the final image is cleared of distracting focal points. For example, if taking a picture of a person, make sure someone else doesn’t wander into shot. If you take a photograph of a friend and someone appears in the background pulling a funny face, the person pulling a face becomes the real subject of the image. The phenomenon of “photo-bombing”, whilst funny can spoil your carefully planned composition. Distractions can be a problem when taking photographs on the street.
- Eliminate Protruding Background Image Elements – This is a common mistake when photographing portraits and occurs when a background object, such as a tree, appears to be protruding from someone’s head. Make sure there are no comical objects included in your background pictures before shooting.
- Check for Competing Lines – This happens when both your subject and image background have lines causing them to clash so that the composition becomes cluttered.
Make the Subject Fill the Frame
Removing the background completely by filling the frame with the subject is a very effective way of removing distracting elements. Take the photograph from a close-up position or use your zoom lens to create a tight fame to create a high impact photograph without any distractions.
Use Open Spaces as Photographic Backgrounds
Subjects can be placed in front of open spaces or a long way from other objects to achieve a blurred background effect. Placing a subject next to a wall or a tree will pace the background within the focal range. However, placing the subject in front of an open space such as a field in a landscape photograph will give a much more blurred background because it blurs out of focus as is stretches into the distance.
Create Your Own Background Pictures
There are occasions when you must photograph a subject completely out of the theme and surroundings you want to create because sometimes there isn’t any suitable background. For indoor photography, there are many commercial backgrounds available online. However, sometimes the solution is as simple as buying some old cloth or using large sheets of coloured card to place behind the subject.
If possible, try to arrange the moveable objects in the background so that the subject is complimented. If you are shooting indoors, this could involve moving furniture. Consider adding something to the background to make the image unique.
Blur the Photography Background
This technique is used to express the focus in the image and it is an effective way to bring out the details of the subject. Using the lens to make the background out of focus by using depth of field is a powerful way to eliminate background image distractions. The result is a blurred background where the viewer is unable to see any detail.
Use wide aperture to create shallow depth of field to achieve this effect quickly and blur out distracting background elements. The smaller the number, the wider the aperture and the wider the aperture the blurrier the background will become. Start with a setting of f/20 and work down to under f/4.
Depth of field is the focus surrounding the image subject. Shallow depth of field means that the area surrounding the subject is blurred. The viewers’ attention is automatically drawn to the subject in your photograph if the background is a blur.
Background pictures can also be blurred by using a lens with a long focal length. The subject takes up more space in the frame with a long focal length and can yield worthwhile results.
Keep a Look out for Background Picture Opportunities
Always keep a look out for great backgrounds that you could use for future photographs. You should be aware of plain backdrops that avoid distractions and backgrounds that could provide character and add something to the composition. Keep a list of shoot locations so that you’ve always got options for any shoot.