As I look back on the photos I've taken over the past few years, I notice that I'm getting better and better shots. Why is this? Before really getting into photography as a hobby, I simply looked at something and took the shot. I did not consider the background at all. Even now, I sometimes get so excited about something that I forget that taking the background into consideration can make the difference between a photo and work of art. So what do we look for when we factor in the background?
The first thing to do is scan the background of your shot and check for colours and lines that might clash with your subject. Next, if your camera has the capability, throw the background out of focus by using depth of field. This is best done with a manual digital single lens reflex camera. Mine is not a manual, but I do have the capability of choosing some aperture settings. Also, you could either move the subject or move yourself to get a better angle (see previous post). One of the most effective ways to deal with background is to fill the frame with your subject. I love using my macro and super macro settings and will discuss this when it's M week. In addition, you could go out to take photos with your own background. For example, take coloured sheets of card stock with you or a variety of coloured fabrics to act as background. Finally, there are lots of different photo editing software available. I use Photoshop Elements and really enjoy fooling around with its capabilities. Not that I do all these things every time, but I can sharpen the focus, adjust the contrast, lighten or darken shadows, and play with colours by changing the hue, temperature, and saturation of a photo. Also, I can crop and resize the image.
In the following photo, I took a shot from the boat as we were cruising past Steveston Village. I recognized the location as one where L and I frequently go and sit in our sun chairs to relax, read and watch the boats go by. Pajos Restaurant is there, too, where we'll buy fish and chips to nibble during those long, lazy summer afternoons. Looking at it now, I see so much more than what I wanted to shoot. There is not only the tree, beside which we sit just above the rocks, and the restaurant, but also in the shot there are cars, a condo, telephone poles, the mountains, and an airplane taking off. I never noticed these things at the time.
In this next shot, I had quickly pulled over to the side of the road because the field was so bright and beautiful. However, I was worried about all the cars passing and took a quick shot, not taking into account anything except the little girl dragging her pumpkin away. You will notice (and I think this is a bit amusing) two men standing around chatting with cameras around their necks, one lady walking away, and another little girl lagging behind her. Also, if you look beyond the field, you will see a bit of the city past the treeline and mountains in the far distance. I actually like this because you are able to see just how close my neighbourhood is to Vancouver. We live in a semi-rural area, but with city conveniences near at hand.
I took this shot over 5 years ago when I was travelling in Sicily. We were at the Valley of the Temples where you'll find the remains of eight Greek temples. I took several shots of this particular one (the Temple of Castor and Pollux) and finally got up as close as I could to block out the background of the city of Agrigento behind. However, I do like this shot as it shows the incongruity of the ancient ruins and the modern city so near to each other.
And one more shot, this time of me standing in front of a sign in Cardiff that reads, "Wales The Happy Country." It was pouring rain and my friend said to go stand by the sign and he'd take my photo. Now when I look at it, I see the dragon (symbol of Wales) plus the shop windows that we didn't stop to look at while there. Next time I'm in Cardiff, I will try to find that shop again and go in to look around. In this case, I'm glad the background is there, even if it hadn't originally meant to be.
Thanks to Denise Nesbitt, our bold buccaneer, for creating ABC Wednesdays and for keeping it going for nigh on 5 years! It has become international and more and more people are contributing each week. Mrs. Nesbitt's bright and beautiful assistants take turns producing each week's beginning post and will take a break in their day to visit all the other posts. So do consider bonding with us by clicking here to see each week's contributors.
- Delta, British Columbia, Canada
- I took very early retirement from teaching in '06 and did some traveling in Europe and the UK before settling down to do some private tutoring. As a voracious reader, I have many books waiting in line for me to read. Tell me I shouldn't read something, and I will. I'm a happy, optimistic person and I love to travel and through that believe that life can be a continuous learning experience. I'm looking forward to traveling more some day. I enjoy walking, cycling, water aerobics & and sports like tennis, volleyball, and fastpitch/baseball. I'm just getting into photography as a hobby and I'm enjoying learning all the bits and bobs of my digital camera. My family is everything to me and I'm delighted to be the mother of two girls and the Gramma of a boy and a girl. I may be a Gramma, but I'm at heart just a girl who wants to have fun.