Composing and choosing background
Composing and choosing the right background is something a studio photographer never ignores. Nature photographers (primarily wildlife photographers) obviously don’t have the same amount of control over the subject or the setting, but that doesn’t mean it should be ignored. Landscape photographers take great care in choosing the right spot and setting up the camera to achieve the desired effect, something that is easily forgotten when shooting wildlife.
I will try to show you the difference it can make. Less then a hundred meters from my house there is a small copse of conifers (Abies alba), where a group of pine grosbeaks have taken up residence this winter. Grosbeaks are not that shy and tolerate quite a bit of movement around them, which is great if you want to practice composing.
This is a picture with not much thought behind it other than capturing the bird. As you can see the bird is pretty much centered and the background is nothing special even if it’s not that bad.
Walking around the copse I found another place where some other grosbeaks were feeding and a much more “living” background. It was much closer so i had to remove the 2x extender which was good since it was a bit darker.
After a while the sun came around and started shining at the background, which gave a really golden gloving effect. Notice that the grosbeak is positioned of center (rule of thirds) which gives it a very different look.
A different crop of the same photo.
And another composition with a 5″ x 7″ crop.
As you can see it often pays of to search for a god background and compose well, even if much can be done in post process.