Wildlife Photography - Eliminating An Unwanted Background
Wildlife appears in the most unexpected places, even in your own backyard. To create a natural looking photo, there are some simple ways to eliminate a distracting background and capture the illusion that your photo was taken in the wild.
Wildlife photography is such an inspirational field; it is easy to see why so many photographers, both amateur and professional, become fascinated by this rewarding pursuit.
Choosing a good subject for a wildlife photo is never difficult. The variety of characters in the animal kingdom provides a never-ending source of material. Even better, some of the best subjects can be found in the cities, even in our own backyards. You don't have to be an intrepid world traveller to enjoy a satisfying hobby as a wildlife photographer.
It can be a real challenge to capture a natural looking photo in a suburban setting. If you can eliminate any man-made distractions from your photo, you can create the illusion of an image captured in a totally natural environment.
A bad background can really spoil the impact of a good wildlife subject, but how do we avoid it? Of course these days there are plenty of people who would just edit it out using a computer, but (believe it or not) most people still prefer to rely on their camera skills rather than on software.
Here are some simple tips to help you eliminate a bad background from your wildlife photos.
The first thing to do is simply position yourelf to find the best angle to take your photo. Imagine you are trying to photograph a bird in a tree. From one angle, you might be able to see power lines or the roof of the house in the background. If you move to a better angle, you may be able to capture the green foliage of the tree as your background instead.
This may seem obvious, but one reason so many photos fail is because the photographer doesn't bother to make this small extra effort.
Your second goal is to try to reduce the amount of background that is visible in your photo. This can be as simple as getting as close as possible to the subject and using your largest lens. This is a very easy technique. Moving closer ensures the subject fills as much of the frame as possible. Your largest lens (or the largest zoom on your lens) narrows the field of view in a photo so that the focus in on the subject, not on the surroundings.
The extra advantage of a telephoto lens is that it has a naturally small depth of field. This means while your subject is in focus, everything in front and behind is a blur. So not only does the telephoto lens reduce the amount of background that is visible in your photo; what you can see should be completely out of focus.
The final step to eliminate a distracting background is to open the aperture as wide as possible. This is simple photography theory; a wide aperture produces a narrow depth of field. So if you are already using a large lens, and you add a narrow aperture as well, you reduce your depth of field to its absolute minimum. Now you should be able to produce an almost three dimensional image, with your sharply focused subject emerging from a totally out-of-focus background.
As you can see from the simplicity of these guidelines, it is easy to reduce the distraction of an unattractive background. It doesn't take fancy equipment or a diploma in photography. All it takes is a little extra effort, and understanding how to use the camera you have.
Now consider all the situations where these tips can improve your photos. When taking photos at in your backyard, at the zoo or out in the street, you can use these simple methods to create the illusion that they were taken in the wild. Even if your background is not that ugly, it can provide a distraction from the main subject. By putting the background out of focus, it becomes a soft palette of colour that makes the subject really stand out.
Article Tags: Wildlife Photography
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Andrew Goodall has made his living from nature photography for over 20 years. See his images at http://www.naturesimage.com.au Andrew's ebooks "Photography in Plain English" and "Every Picture Tells A Story" have helped thousands of beginners learn the art and skills of nature photography. Find them at http://www.naturesimage.com.au/page/25/default.asp