Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Nailing Down the Background

Wildlife photography presents a multitude of challenges.  Locating the subject is only the first step towards making a good photograph.  Light is always of prime consideration, both quality and angle.  So often in our rush to capture the photograph we fail to look beyond the subject to take background into consideration.


This image of a very good Pennsylvania bull illustrates a shot made without consideration of background.  It remains a documentary shot in my archives from the 2010 rut but is a shot that will never hang on a wall. 

A fog background can make for a beautiful almost mystical image while it obscures an otherwise unattractive or distracting background.  The key to making these shots lies in getting close to the subject to minimize the amount of fog between the camera lens and subject.

In this instance the clear blue sky provided an attractive uncluttered background to capture this young bull against.  Shooting up hill is a favored tactic of mine.

Here the same bull poses in a hilltop ravine with the colored foliage on the next ridge providing a soft backdrop.

Shooting a bull elk as he bugles from a hilltop required a low camera angle to place an adjacent hillside into the background. 

So many factors come into play when photographing wildlife; subject, pose, lighting, and camera settings.  All of the attention we pay to each of these important items though will be for naught if we don't look beyond the subject and consider the backdrop as well. 

10 comments:

Montanagirl said...

Coy these are just terrific. You are so right about the background considerations when taking photos. Your second to last shot is fantastic, with the softly blurred colored foliage in the background.

Paul in Powell River said...

A well illustrated point, and I agree the second-to-last is fantastic, just barely edging out the last. Well shot!

heyBJK said...

Very nice examples of background selection! It just goes to show you have to learn to see everything in the viewfinder, not just the subject. Then composition comes into play.

Ruth's Photo Blog said...

Wonderful images.

Brad Myers said...

When I commented yesterday somehow I failed to notice that you changed you blog header. It was great how this bull posed for us. I have to admit I don't think you last header can be topped.

I will drop you and Willard an email on when I plan to go to SNP for the rut.

Thanks for the fun week, Brad

Bob Shank said...

Great post, Coy! I am learning, albeit slowly, how to get into position to have good backgrounds in my photographs. The background can make or break a shot!

Meggie said...

While driving to Applefest in Franklin, PA this morning my friends and I talked about going to Elk County to see your beautiful creatures. The foliage up north was more colorful than ours closer to the city. Your eastern foliage looks beautiful also.

Marci said...

Very nice photos, Coy! These are great lessons that I struggle to follow. I can't seem to get close enough to elk when they are in their natural habitat, so I have wires and houses in my backgrounds.

JimB said...

Good lesson! Beautiful images to go with the lesson.

Blair Cessna said...

I enjoyed this blog a lot Coy..Thanks for sharing this wisdom and great captures...