Photo Tip Monday - February 3rd - Ld

Photo Tip Monday - February 3rd

Happy February! You've probably heard by now that Groundhog Phil saw his shadow, which of course means six more weeks of winter. In Minnesota however, we're rejoicing at the thought of only six more weeks of this freezing cold weather. To all you winter lovers, I am with you. But this cold...

Anyway, I digress. 

Today we continue on our journey of exploring 5 tips for setting up a great nature photograph. To quickly look back, tip one talked about paying attention to your light source and tip two talked about watching those horizons. Today we will talk about something along those same lines.

But first, my disclaimer: 

Warning: Throughout this series I will be showing you some pictures that well...are not some of my favorites. Unedited. Never before posted (never before wanted to post). I decided to post these pictures versus finding examples on the internet because 1. that would be copyright infringement, and 2. because I want you to see that I don't always get it right. I have learned by doing and I want you to learn from things I have done. The best way to do this is through some of my mistakes/examples.

Onward to the third tip which is:

3. Watch for unwanted objects

Let me first start out by saying that I realize that sometimes you may be in a situation where you just can't avoid one or more unwanted objects, but what is important is that you are aware and if there is something you don't want in your picture, then you can try and avoid it. 

When taking pictures, it is important to be aware of what is around your subject before taking the photo. Often, there can be unwanted items that can be distracting to the viewer and can take away from your main subject.

You do not want this!

Trust me, you really don't.

Just like a crooked horizon, an out of place object can be just as distracting, like the bench in the picture of the flowers above. 

Say for example, you took a number of beautiful landscape shots of a park in the fall. You get home, load the pictures onto your computer, and you notice that there is a garbage can in ALL of your pictures! If only you had noticed that when you were there taking the picture!

Side note. Sometimes, unwanted items in a photograph are referred to as photobombs, which let's face it, can be quite amusing (check out some adorable animal photobombs). But I'm not talking only about photobombs today because those aren't always in your control. In the elk/bison picture above, I was hoping to get the elk and bison both in the picture, side-by-side, but then the bison turned and the result is the picture above. End side note.

A vast majority of the time, unwanted items are stationary and you can often control whether or not they show up in your picture.

Check out some of the pictures below for more examples of what I'm talking about. This is a photography blog after all!


Shadows can be an example of an unwanted distraction in a photograph. 

In the picture on the left, I could have easily taken two or three steps forward and avoided the shadow altogether.

In the picture on the right*, moving wouldn't have worked as I was standing on a dock by the water, but I could have tried taking the picture from a different camera angle to avoid most if not all of the shadow. 

*You may be asking yourself why I was taking a picture of a swamp. The answer is that I was doing a project for a class on wetlands, and wah-lah. Swampy picture. 

Branches and Trees

Branches and trees are one of the most common objects I have to navigate around when taking pictures. 

In the picture on the left, you can see that when I initially took the picture, there were tons of trees and branches in the frame that were distracting away from the subject, which is the moon and the rocks. 

For the middle picture, I moved to another area so that I could avoid the trees and branches. I like this picture how it is, but I took it one step further.

In the picture on the right, I zoomed in to highlight the rocks and moon even more.

Houses, Buildings, Other Structures

Houses, buildings and structures are more examples of items that can be unwanted in your picture, but something that may be avoided. For this picture, like in the pictures above, I could have easily moved over a little, or just simply turned my body and avoided the house in this picture. 

I want to emphasize that not all objects in photographs are bad. Some objects can really add to the picture, such as the kayak in the photograph above. 

Yes, you can remove some objects from a photograph using a photo editing software, but as I mentioned in last week's post, in my opinion you should never take a picture with the idea that you will do a lot of editing later. 

Here is this week's takeaway:

-Check your viewfinder or camera screen for unwanted objects before and after taking the picture

-Unwanted objects in a photograph can be distracting and can take away from the main subject

-If there is an unwanted object in your photograph, you can try measures such as moving or changing your camera angle to avoid that object. Changing the depth of field (blurring the background) is also an option if you are familiar with this (another blog post for another time). 

Anyone have any stories about this? I'd love to hear about them!

Happy Photographing!

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