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Sunday, April 4, 2010

9 Tips for Getting Backgrounds Right

by Darren Rowse

Backgrounds present both opportunities and challenges to photographers. On the one hand they can put a subjects in context and make it stand out in a way that highlights it wonderfully – but on the other hand backgrounds can overwhelm subjects and distract from them.

Some of the common problems that photographers have with backgrounds include:

* Distracting Focal Points – we’ve all seen this happen – we line up a shot of a friend to take as a portrait and just as we press the shutter someone else pops their head up over their shoulder with a silly face. The result is that the real focal point of the shot becomes the face pulling person. This is an extreme example of distracting
focal points in the background but it’s something that happens quite a lot.

* Protruding Elements from Subjects Heads – I nearly didn’t include this one but it’s so common that I just had to mention it. When shooting a portrait one of the common mistakes is for some background element to look like it’s sticking up out of a person’s head – like a horn. It’s often trees (as in the photo to the left) but could be anything. These shots can be quite comical but can also really throw the composition of a shot off.

* Competing Lines – if your subject has lines in it and your background also has strong lines they can compete in such a way that the image becomes busy or so that the lines clash with one another.
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