Watching My Backgrounds

Far too often, I see the light and I compose the subject, but I pay inadequate attention to the background. Later, sitting at the computer, I think I picked a bad day to quit drinking, because there before me is a beautifully lit subject that appears to have a tree growing out of her head, or a scowling stranger over her shoulder.

Last weekend, I went into the backyard with my 105mm f/2.8 Micro-Nikkor, determined to pay attention to backgrounds while shooting. Sometimes this required contortions that would get me shunned in polite society, but I think it was worth it.

From most angles, this poppy would have been surrounded by other poppies, irises, mulch, and all sorts of greenery and brown-ery. But for the photographer willing to lay down in the mulch, a very different composition appears.

I took many photos of bees in the poppies, but I had to wait patiently in a 3/4 crouch for this one.

Even at f/8, the 105 micro produces very narrow depth of field for a close subject, and that helps a lot with backgrounds that would certainly be distracting if they were sharp. Knees in the mulch, nose inches from subjects that could make me regret invading their privacy.

Of course, a background can be compelling in its own right, but it has to know its place - in the background! This was shot with the miraculous 85mm f/1.4. The smooth bokeh of the background allows me to exaggerate the colors without creating too great a distraction. I think.


Filed under Camera Gear, Composition, Nature Photography

2 responses to “Watching My Backgrounds

  1. Myrna Cambianica

    hummm, i think kitty is getting tired of having his portrait taken … better concentrate on bees for awhile!

  2. You are spending so much time looking at the background, you didn’t notice the bee with the mohawk (third pic from the top). Larry

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