Tuesday, December 1, 2015

 Converting Backgrounds Into Backdrops 

This is really part of my concept of "seeing with your imagination." Next time you see something you like, but you notice the background is too busy and ugly, don't keep walking. Look at it again and ask yourself, "What could I make this look like?"

Sometimes it is just simply impossible to eliminate unwanted backgrounds, but the following tips will help you with that frequent dilemma. There are three easy techniques I use to convert backgrounds into backdrops. I mention these in more detail in my book.

1) I use f/stops like f/2.8 and f/4, which give me wide apertures and thus blurred
2) I use my 32" diffuser to eliminate ugly, unappealing backgrounds.
3) I use my "props" to create in-studio looking images when in the field. 

The following are examples of the results I get when I apply these simple techniques. Let's start with the first one--the use of low-number f/stops.

For me, although these are interesting and colorful blooms, the background is just too busy. Two things happen when we take a photo like this. First, psychologically, we really don't notice the background because we are so caught up in the foreground plants. Secondly, when we go home and look at it, we proclaim with disappointment, "They looked much better than this when I was there," right?

Now, with just two simple steps, I converted the above image to this. Instead of f/22, I used f/4 to get a blurred background. Then, I underexposed the scene by a minus one and two-third stops! The combination of those two adjustments subdued the background and made the foreground "pop." It doesn't even look like the same scene, huh?


Now let me illustrate my second tip, the use of my diffuser.

I simply opened and placed my diffuser right up against the flowers in the background in order to soften them. The effect forced them softly into the backgound. They complement the foreground, not compete for attention. 

My third tip involves the use of one of my favorite props-- a large piece of black (non-reflective) velvet material, which I carry with me when I'm shooting nature close-ups. Again, the goal is to eliminate or minimize unwanted backgrounds.

So, here is what this scene looked like to the naked eye. No doubt, they are very nice flowers, but, wow, what a background. It's enough to force most photographers to keep walking.


Now look how dramatically different they look with a studio-like effect, by simply placing a black piece of material behind them--that's all!! The different exposure and background enhance the hues, making the flowers more vibrant .

These are but a few of the many tips, ideas, and techniques I share in my new book, RIGHT BRAIN PHOTOGRAPHY (Be an artist first). 

If you are nearby, call me for a customized private 1-on-1 lesson. I will walk you slowly through every step necessary to convert pictures to artistic images.