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Don't forget about the background

Don't forget about the background - A background can make or break a photo as this short tutorial from Rob Sheppard explains.

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Landscape and Travel

Simply digital photography book coverThis tutorial is from chapter 2 of the Simple Digital Photography book by Rob Sheppard. Visit Wiley for more information.

Just like the foreground, the background can make or break a picture. Often, photographers pay so much attention to their subject itself that they do not really see what is happening behind the subject. This is especially a problem with a digital SLR because the background often looks out of focus when you look through the lens and changes with the actual taking of the picture. But this happens with any camera when the photographer sees only the subject.

Autumn leaves on a blurry background

Distracting backgrounds hurt your subject

A constant challenge the photographers face is avoiding backgrounds that distract from or fight with their subject. Watch what is happening in a background and move your camera position to avoid things such as “hot spots” of light or bright colours.

Simplify a background
A great way to keep a background subordinate to your subject is to find an angle to your subject that keeps the background behind it simple. It is hard for a simple background to distract from your subject. Without a lot of stuff behind your subject, the viewer of your picture will see your subject more clearly.

Contrast your subject with the background
Another way to ensure that your subject stands out is to look for contrast between it and the background. For example, if your subject is dark, see if you can get something light behind it or find a colour that is distinctly different from your subject.

Place your background

Even if you cannot get close to your subject, you can often make it stand out by placing your background carefully behind it. Find a bright spot and move so that the subject is in front of it. Or find a strong colour and move so that it sits behind your subject.

This tutorial is from chapter 2 of the Simple Digital Photography book by Rob Sheppard. Visit Wiley for more information.

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