December 11 - 2018

Gear , Shooting

Top 3 Tips on Dealing with Distracting Backgrounds

by India

Distracting, messy, difficult.

Sometimes we get in sticky situations where the subject you’re photographing on can be lost in the image because there is a messy, distracting background that completely steals the focus of the image. I usually find I have that issue when shooting against a background of dead trees, bushes, crazy snow, or in cities. Here are my top 3 tips of how to minimize distractions in these situations so you can return the focus of your images to the subject, not a crazy background!

1. SHOOT AT A LOWER APERTURE SETTING

TO CREATE DEPTH AND SOFTNESS BETWEEN THE SUBJECT AND THE BACKGROUND.

I typically shoot at f/2.5 regardless of what lens I’m shooting on. When I get into situations where I HAVE to shoot with a really spotty, crazy background that takes away from the couple, I’ll crank my aperture setting down to f/1.6 (ish) to create a greater depth between them and what’s behind them. When you’re shooting at a higher aperture, things are going to appear flatter, like they’re on the same plane. When you shoot at a lower aperture, there’s going to be a lot more depth between the “layers” of your image. Shooting at this low of an aperture is a lot less forgiving if you miss focus, so slow down and make sure you nail your focus on the subject when using this low of an aperture.

2. SHOOT WITH A LONGER LENS

BY MINIMIZING THE AMOUNT OF BACKGROUND SHOWN IN THE IMAGE, IT WILL BE EASIER TO COMPOSE THE SUBJECT TO BE THE MAIN FOCUS OF THE IMAGE.

I typically always like to shoot on my 35mm and 50mm, so when I get in these situations where I want to minimize distractions behind my couple, I’ll switch over to shooting with my 50mm. In this side by side comparison, you can see how even shooting at the same aperture (f/2.0) the 50mm helped a lot with taking care of the lines and lines of dead trees and leaves behind them. 35mm is on the left, 50mm is on the right.

+ ALONG THOSE SAME LINES, GET IN CLOSER!

BECAUSE YOU DON’T ALWAYS HAVE THE OPTION OF SHOOTING TWO LENSES!

When you don’t have this option, simply by moving in closer and composing the image to contain less distracting lines helps a ton! This side by side example shows that perfectly, both shot on a 35mm at f/2.0.

3. PULL THEM AWAY

BY PULLING THEM AWAY FROM THE DISTRACTING BACKDROP, THEY’LL BE ABLE TO STAND OUT MUCH BETTER THAN BEING FLUSH AGAINST IT.

Creating that distance can do wonders! It’s not always an option when you’re limited on space, but anytime you can pull them away from distractions, do! This is a go to option for me when I can’t shoot at a low aperture or a longer lens. You can also frame them within the distractions if it’s a possibility!