Saturday, May 14, 2011

Composing Backgrounds & Elements

Understanding basic photographic composition will definitely help you take better photos. 


Gelato-Yummmm

 Background is one of the essentials in photography. However you must be aware of everything around your subject before you take the shot, not just the background. Sometimes it's a judgement call and your personal taste....




Biker between 2 pedestrians.


Eliminating one pedestrian.


Lots of action.


Eliminating some of the action and focusing on my subjects.

Do the elements in your composition add to it or distract from it? Remember to stop and look around before you push the shutter release button.

I captured a portion of a house in upper right corner and partial red tulips on the left, distractions.


I eliminated the house and tulips to focus on my subject-the frog.

How often have you taken what you thought would be a great shot only to find that the image lacks pizzazz because the subject blends into a distracting background that overwhelms your subject?


I love this guy's hat and dreds but there's too much going on in the photo for viewers to focus on him.


Start by checking the area for unpleasant objects.  If necessary, place your subject in a different location with a different background or take the shot from a different angle. Turn your subject, kneel down and shoot up, stand on something sturdy and shoot downward.


Kneeling down-shooting upward.
Shooting downward
Don't place your subject with anything popping out of their head like trees, light posts, or sign posts. If you can't move your subject, shoot from a different angle. 


Above: notice the tree “growing” out of her head – a distraction.
By shifting left I captured a nicer image. The curve in the tree trunk now makes a nice frame for her face.




Notice the power lines “growing” out of my hubby's ear!
My Hubby and Son


Centering them under the tree is more appealing visually.


"Fill flash" would have eliminated the harsh shadows on the above  photos-I'll cover fill flash in another post.


At times it's necessary to take the shot as is. Some of my best photos break the rules of background. I leave interesting or unusual elements in if I feel they add to the image....


The elements in this photo distract from the flowers.

This is better but.......


Breaking the rules-I like this one best-the added element of the 
boots creates a story: Who is that?, What's going on in the photo?

Objects in the background can distract from or add to your photos. Being aware of what's going on in all areas of the image will help you get the results you want and improve your photographic composition.


I love the graffiti background and the boarded up window framing my son's head.


Below: cropping your photos in post editing software is often the answer to eliminating unwanted objects. 
Unattractive background



By cropping in my editing software I've created a pleasing image.


Practice, practice, practice; read, read, read, look at lots of images by other photographers. You'll catch on to composing your backgrounds and the other visual elements in your photos in no time!




30 comments:

JIM said...

When I first started BD, ( before digital) you would be amazed at how many people or animal I photographed that had trees, poles and arms growing out of their heads. I started to think I had found a group of aliens :)

Composition is so important and you do a great job of explaining it here. As usual a really good tutorial

http://jpweddingphotograpy.blogspot.com/2011/05/romance-and-laughs-on-miamis-river-walk.html

Ravenmyth said...

Mari...really enjoyed this post. I love photography but have never trained. Your pictoral along with the teaching really brought the process of taking the shot to light. I will remember this the next time a take a photo. I do this somewhat now, but you gave me more perspectives...thank you...

Debra said...

Whenever I visit I leave feeling more enriched, as if I’ve been to an art gallery. Your passion for photography shines through all the pictures, and you capture such interesting and unique images – like the guy with the hat and dreds… the oriental lanterns and wild shoes (need to share this with Savira:)

And what a extraordinary gift for instruction you have. These techniques surely apply to artists of all genres, including writers. I’ve seen writers whose work is full of the extraneous, while they need to stay focused on the subject.

Sailor said...

It was an interesting lesson. You showed the differences in perspective with real pictures. It was really funny to notice the wire through your husband's ears and the tree growing from the girls head :D By the way you found some handsome and beautiful models too!

FherYmas said...

It's nice that you give us comparison, it is a lot easier that way to understand from a layman point of view...

melissa said...

wow mari...thanks... my sister once said sometimes background becomes too important...

i think one of the craziest distractions we make is to pose on a landscape...(i'll post that in your page)... or beside a religious object or statue... because the subject loses its value... well, i do have some other thing in mind... but it would be too much of moralizing on my part :P...

loved it mari...:D

David said...

Great tips!! You're very correct in being flexible on background action, many pics are enhanced because of what is going on behind the subject. Will certainly try to remeber to eliminate the distractions. Nice post and pics!!

Btw, I was taking some pics this week and remembered your lesson on "rule of thirds"

Finding One's Way said...

Mari,
You are a fountain of information when it comes to photography. You make it look so easy... One must have an eye for detail in order to achieve the perfect composition. Which you so clearly have my friend...
xoxo
Jessica

Alfandi said...

background is really important..it's part of the story telling...for me, that's the first thing to look for or you'll be wasting your time and effort..great tutorial Mari..

Pooch Purple Reign said...

good advice... thanks
~laura

lakwatsera de primera said...

Great tips Mari, I guess the "KISS" rule is a good start when composing a photo.

Team G Square said...

Wow , great tips . Thanks for sharing

Nelieta said...

Great tips Marie! I love how you explain with examples and now I understand and can see the difference so much better. Thank you!

cooking varieties said...

hi mari, so many great tips with so many beautiful photos.

i learnt a lot on the background effect, i especially like the door frame border at your son's head.
that must be his fiance huh.
have a nice day to all your family in this post

Jacob said...

Greetings Mari! Thanks for stopping by our blog and becoming a follower! That led me here and I'm delighted as I can use all the help I can get.

This is an excellent article with many useful tips. But, as you say, rules are made to be broken and sometimes a broken rule can lead to a wonderful photo...

Other times, ya just gotta use Photoshop 'cause you had to snap the picture without thinking much about any rules! :-)

Sailor said...

Sorry about being late to respond. Here is the direct link http://chennaicitypictures.blogspot.com/2011/05/chembarambakkam-water-tank-chennai.html

Thank you so much for all the beautiful comments and the support.

Rimly said...

That was amazing Mari. I will be more careful now when I take pictures, careful of the backgrounds. Every post of yours is so useful and informative. Thank you

Kriti said...

Yet again Mari - thank you so much for bringing up simple things that we the untrained and un-detailed miss out on. This was amazing and 2 handsome men in the family are awesome subjects : ))

So... said...

These are great advises!! I really like your blog and I'm following you too! :)
xx so

Mari Sterling Wilbur said...

Thank you all for the wonderful compliments. All we bloggers love getting them! Thank you especially for the compliments on two of the favorite men in my life. :D

bod for tea said...

Great advice Mari! Love your compositions. I'm a big fan of cropping, really helps my wayward photos become something more pleasing to the eye!

Milanblogger said...

very useful blog and great captures

Sam @ My Carolina Kitchen said...

Marti,
What a lot of great photography tips. I'm not the photographer, my husband is. I had no idea about what to look for before shooting, but I certainly know what does and what does not look good "after" the fact. Thanks for urging me to think before shooting.
Sam

Tammy said...

Interesting! I'm learning a lot just by reading your posts. I like the "dred" guy, though, because of the disharmony between his outfit and surroundings! Also love the look on the pedestrians' faces. Makes me think of Albus Dumbledore strolling through a land of muggles....

Tammy said...

Interesting! I'm learning a lot just by reading your posts. I like the "dred" guy, though, because of the disharmony between his outfit and surroundings! Also love the look on the pedestrians' faces. Makes me think of Albus Dumbledore strolling through a land of muggles....

Sam @ My Carolina Kitchen said...

Marti,
What a lot of great photography tips. I'm not the photographer, my husband is. I had no idea about what to look for before shooting, but I certainly know what does and what does not look good "after" the fact. Thanks for urging me to think before shooting.
Sam

Sailor said...

Sorry about being late to respond. Here is the direct link http://chennaicitypictures.blogspot.com/2011/05/chembarambakkam-water-tank-chennai.html

Thank you so much for all the beautiful comments and the support.

lakwatsera de primera said...

Great tips Mari, I guess the "KISS" rule is a good start when composing a photo.

Sailor said...

It was an interesting lesson. You showed the differences in perspective with real pictures. It was really funny to notice the wire through your husband's ears and the tree growing from the girls head :D By the way you found some handsome and beautiful models too!

Debra said...

Whenever I visit I leave feeling more enriched, as if I’ve been to an art gallery. Your passion for photography shines through all the pictures, and you capture such interesting and unique images – like the guy with the hat and dreds… the oriental lanterns and wild shoes (need to share this with Savira:)

And what a extraordinary gift for instruction you have. These techniques surely apply to artists of all genres, including writers. I’ve seen writers whose work is full of the extraneous, while they need to stay focused on the subject.