Watch your background

The scene is set. At last the bird you have waited for, for so long is right there in front of you. You have waited an eternity for this opportunity and clickerty click, click goes the hard working camera.

Zoned out and seeing long

When that opportunity comes and that bird is right in front of us, our focus tends to be locked on to that bird and our world is reduced to that distance between us and our prize. Our attention to detail is trapped in the zone between us and our subject and we don’t notice things outside of that zone and beyond. Sometimes we are guilty of missing some small out of focus object between us and our subject as we tend to see past/through things, but equally important is what is beyond our subject.
Seeing long, seeing beyond our subject is a skill that needs to be developed as a failure to do so can cause us to miss elements that rob the image of its potential emotional impact.

Firstly the most important person you need to impress with your image is YOU. All the others that ooh & ahh over your image are meaningless if all you can see is a great big blooper staring back at you and if only you could go back in time and reposition your self so that the background of your image did not detract from your image.

Drawn to the light

The human eye is drawn to the light. Our focus when looking at an image will always seek out the brightest part of the image and we will always be drawn to that brightest patch first and if that object or area is not our intended subject then disappointment is going to raise its ugly head. Even more, if that bright patch is a strong shape or element like a strong diagonal line such as in the image below in the image the image can be really impacted.

A Male kārearea or New Zealand Bush Falcon

Remember the most important person to consider when viewing an image is YOU.
The most important response an image has on the viewer is the immediate emotional impact the image elicits.
Shapes and light values are the main elements in our image and the eye human eye will be naturally drawn to the centre of an image as it is there that our eye has the strongest focus called our focal point from there it’s the strongest elements that drag or lead us away from the centre of the image.
We are naturally drawn to our bird but directly behind that bird is a very strong bright diagonal element that begs our focus and attention.

I should have seen the trunk of the tree in the background and realised that it could dominate my image and changed the angle of the image by repositioning myself.

A Male kārearea or New Zealand Bush Falcon

You cannot choose your background but you can choose to seek out the best possible compromise. Train yourself to really look through that viewfinder before pressing that shutter button. This second image is much better thought out.
I can’t eliminate the background interference altogether but I can look for the best possible chance of it not competing with my subject.

I offer one on one and group workshops if anyone wishes to learn some of the skills of wildlife photography in the Wellington and Kapiti coast regions.



4 thoughts on “Watch your background

  1. perdebytjie

    Wonderful example of what can regularly happen in wildlife photography. Sometimes you cannot reposition yourself or only notice the problem afterwards. I really enjoyed this blog Tony and I must say, the last shot is beautiful!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.