Shoot with intention. The remainder will fall into place, right?
Today we are going to discuss different kinds of Background Distractions, and some ideas on how to go about eliminating them. But let’s get back to intention for just a moment longer.
If, while in the field, everything we do with your camera is done for a specific reason, you’ll develop a workflow that should have you on the path towards creating successful images. Shooting with intention slows us down and gives us time and opportunity to see easily missed details before it’s too late. Details like Background Distractions.
So, What are some examples of Background Distractions? Let’s look at just a couple.
Intrusion is a big word for those annoying little things that seem to just pop into a scene without us noticing. It may be a tree branch, or a telephone pole growing out of someone’s head, or a random body part poking in from out of frame. Whatever the case, they are things that don’t belong. It’s important to know these things will likely always be noticed, and they’ll always be a distraction. I feel as if these things are easier to eliminate while in the field, rather than finding them later. Start by scanning the edges of your frame, and work your way in. If there is something there, fix it. You might have to move around, reframe, or even find a new angle.
Bright & Black
Our eyes are drawn from dark to light, and from cool to warm. you may utilize this knowledge already when composing images, and in your post-processing work. Our eye is always drawn to the brightest spot in an image. Think a blown highlight, your eye is going to identify that immediately. However, overly dark areas can be distracting too. Almost always we work to eliminate blown highlights, and we look to have some detail in our darks. So, work to identify those excessively light or dark spots while in the field by defocusing the lens a bit so that you’ll see everything in only fields of tone and color. Now, decide whether they are a distraction.
This is exactly what it sounds like: two objects in an image overlap one another. This one you must tackle in the field by moving and changing angles to create appropriate spacing. Sometimes, like when photographing wildlife, they’ll move for you if you have time to wait. I think about this one a lot, especially when photographing the Scarlet Macaws of Costa Rica. You often find these beautiful birds in pairs. Spending a good deal of time with a pair will generally provide enough opportunity to get an image where they are spaced nicely, without any overlap, which happens frequently as they interact with each other.
But not all background distractions are this easy to identify. Often, things in the background are just a little cluttered, active, or just, well, distracting. What can be done?