To draw attention to your subject, let it shine against a background that is either blurry or one that has a neutral, dark, or contrasting color. Make sure that your background is free of clutter. The photos in this post have either a blurry, neutral or dark background. In the next post, I will discuss the use of contrasting color in the background and will illustrate how clutter in a photo confuses the eye and draws the focus away from the main subject.
In the photograph below, the eye focuses on the baby's sunlit face, clear blue eyes, moist rosy lips, and white baby teeth. The blurry ocean water and sand in the background are just there to provide a point of reference as to the baby's location.
|Ryan on Long Beach Island, NJ|
In the photograph below, the blurry background enables the eye to focus on the bird's red eye and the details of its fine feathers.
|Southern Lapwing, Iguazu Falls, Brazil|
A blurry background works even better if it's also in a neutral color. For example, in the photograph below, the snowboarders attract the eye immediately because they pop against the blurry grey background.
|Nick and Ben, Wisp Resort, McHenry, MD|
Although blurring your background is a good way to highlight your subjects, make sure that the background color is not so close to the color of your subjects that they blend together. In the photograph below, the green parrotlets blend into their green background (another problem with this photograph is that it's very busy; this will be discussed in the next post.)
|Parrotlets in Flowering Gum Tree, Punta del Este, Uruguay|
This is probably the easiest technique to use, although it's not always available in nature. In the photograph below, the little tumbler stands out in her pink outfit against the gray sand.
|A Beach Tumbler on Long Beach Island, NJ|
A dark background provides a dynamic contrast to help the eye focus on just the subject. In the photograph below, Peaches, our adopted rescued horse, stands out against the black background. This black background enables the eye to focus on Peaches' fair coloring, which shines warmly under the golden afternoon sun.
|Peaches, our Rescued Appaloosa, |
Cedarmere Farm in the Blue Ridge, Free Union, VA
The pitch black background in the photograph below enhances the delicate nature of the peony's ruffled petals.
|Peony, Cedarmere in the Blue Ridge, Free Union, VA|
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