In my previous article, I talked about the importance of detail in macro photography. Here I will concentrate on another, more aesthetically-oriented aspect of macro photography - the background.
Arguably as important as the subject itself, the background can have a huge impact on a macro shot. Photographers working in all genres use the background to emphasize the subject and to connect it to its environment. There are many variables that contribute to an effective background. Among these are the amount of blur applied to it, the brightness and saturation of its elements, as well as the colors and shapes that comprise it.
With any given subject, changing the background can yield a completely different look and feel to a photograph, as the examples below illustrate.
|Wasp with vegetation background||Wasp with earth background|
As can be seen in the first image, I shot this beautiful wasp from about eye level. The color of the background is due to the green vegetation behind the wasp. For the second shot, I stayed in the very same place, only extending the tripod's legs by a few centimeters to get slightly higher. The result is a similar composition, yet with a very different, earth-toned background. Achieving such a dramatic change in background with such a small adjustment to camera position is a consequence of shooting from a close distance. Note also that the relationship between background distance and subject distance is extremely large. I like to say that in macro, everything revolves around the subject, and so a tiny change in camera position compels a large angular change in the direction of shooting, and the closer you get - the larger the change. And as we've just seen, the change in direction has a great effect on the background and thus on the mood of the image.
In practical terms this means that shooting a subject with a background of our choice requires careful consideration, and (often) no small amount of effort. The payoff is as you start understand and apply these subtle adjustments, you open up seemingly infinite possibilities for creating beautiful backgrounds that not only complement the subject, but serve to link it to its environment.
|This image of an ordinary-looking Levantine Leopard (Apharitis acamas) benefits a great deal from its vibrant, yellow background, through which the animal is connected to the springtime environment.|
While close shooting distances inherently mean relatively blurry backgrounds, there is a farily wide spectrum available that is largely a matter of taste. Some photographers like a very smooth and even-toned background, while others love "busy" backgrounds, with recognizable details, shapes and colors.
|When a subject fills the frame, a |
simple background can convey mood
and ambience while keeping attention
on the subject.
|A very small subject such as this |
orange-tip butterfly (Anthocharis
cardamines) calls for a busy
background to create interest.
I tend to fall somewhere in the middle. When a subject is rather large and dominant in the frame, I usually find a smoother background to be more appropriate; one that doesn't detract from the subject. Yet I do try to give my backgrounds gradients – either of brightness or of color. Conversely, when the subject is quite small, I aim to create a much busier scene behind the subject. A medium-sized subject (like the frog shown below) works great with a moderately - or to be more precise - selectively busy background.
|Note that he busiest parts of the background occupy the emptiest area of the image, creating a sense of compositional balance; always a consideration when composing in the field.|
I want to stress that the above guidelines are just that - guidelines. They are by no means hard and fast rules, and shouldn't be treated as such. Each photographic situation suggests its own way of working best. I often break the 'rules' and strive for creativity above all else, as should you.
|The background can even become part of the subject, like this use of the sun |
as the 'sorcerer's orb'.
The color of the background, as one would imagine, plays a significant in emphasizing the subject. You can use a background color which is complementary (ie opposite in hue) to that of the subject, or at least very different. Doing so brings out the subject by emphasizing its own colors. However, a background with colors very similar to that of the subject can also be effective, giving an organic feeling of assimilation. This works especially well with camouflaged animals. I should mention that I use natural backgrounds exclusively, as oposed to studio backdrops or any other artificial materials. Nature offers fantastic colors all on its own.
|A complementary background color can make the subject "pop".||A background of a similar color to the subject's has its own beauty, and an organic feel to it.|
A related issue is the brightness level of the background. A background having similar brightness to that of the subject will of course create less contrast in comparison to a background which is brighter or darker. However, I try to refrain from creating a background which is too bright or too dark, as that can throw the image out of balance.
|A very bright background can work well as long as it doesn't divert |
attention from the subject.
By carefully considering the colors, brightness, shapes and textures in front of which we shoot, and combining those with the ability to adjust depth of field and the angle of view, we can achieve almost any background we desire.
|Placing a yellow flower behind the subject has allowed me to highlight this beautiful robber fly.||Another trick I use is to shoot in front of a background of similar color to the subject's eyes.|
Erez Marom is a nature photographer based in Israel and a regular contributor to Composition magazine. You can see more of his work at www.erezmarom.com and follow him on his Facebook page and deviantArt gallery.
|First, Let me check its expiry date. by rajeev22675|
from Best Photo of the Week
|Dairy Way by BodkinsBest|
from Best Astrophotography Landscape #4
YouTube channel Photoshop Cafe has shared a video detailing ten tips and tricks you can do to both fix and speed up Photoshop when it's running slow and sluggish.
It's not going to be the banger of the year, but it'll get a few laughs.
DJI has confirmed its drones won't be affected by the GPS 2019 week rollover.
Dogfish Head Craft Brewery has teamed up with Kodak to release a beer that's capable of doubling as a film developer.
The Diana Instant Square is a retro-inspired camera with manual controls that's fun to shoot in good light, but largely unpredictable in its operation.
Residents of a Paris street plagued by Instagrammers, selfie takers and music video crews are asking the city government for a weekend and evening ban to give them some peace.
The adapter plugs into the Osmo Pocket's USB Type-C port and features a 3.5mm TRS jack to plug in various external microphones.
Checkout allows Instagram users to select products for purchase and make payments directly in the app.
GauGAN as it's known, can create photorealistic images from basic drawings using the power of artificial intelligence.
The EOS RP is Canon's latest full-frame mirrorless camera, with diminutive dimensions and a diminutive price. Find out how it stacks up and get our thoughts in our early review.
Montana judge Dana L. Christensen has ruled the Republican National Committee did not infringe upon the copyright of photographer Erika Peterman after they took a photo from a Democratic candidate's Facebook page without permission and altered it to use in a derogatory promotional mailer.
Nikon has launched updates for three of its programs to address various bugs and glitches that could cause crashes and unwanted results.
LEE Filters has launched the LEE100, its next-generation filter holder that improves the design and looks in all the right places.
With the arrival of some much-needed sunshine and final production firmware for the Panasonic S1, we've been able to get outside and really start putting the camera through its paces.
Importing, culling and tagging photos is about to get a whole lot faster and look a whole lot better with the impending arrival of Photo Mechanic 6.
On its own, the FTZ adapter retails for $250 and when bundled it dropped the cost to just $150. Now, Nikon is offering it for free with all Z6, Z7 purchases in the United States.
Profoto said it spoke with Godox back at Photokina 2018 and continues to contact Godox in an effort to stop it from marketing its V1 light.
Product renders in Italian publication Notebook Italia show an unusual design that conceals all cameras with the help of a slider mechanism.
Canon says its new EF 400mm F2.8L IS III and EF 600mm F4L IS III lenses can suffer from an intermittent flickering when shooting video in M or Av modes with certain cameras.
Leica recently announced the Q2, a digital rangefinder with a fixed 28mm F1.7 lens. It's a heck of a lot of fun to shoot with, but is it right for you? Based on our time with the camera, and its specifications, we've examined how well-suited it is for common photography use-cases.
Now that our Panasonic Lumix S1R has final firmware, we couldn't wait to get out shooting with it - and we also tried the high-res mode, which combines files to get 187 megapixel images. Because sometimes, 47 megapixels just isn't enough.
In this article, travel and landscape photographer Mitch Green encourages us to spend more time in the the field.
the lens lacks any electronics whatsoever and is constructed entirely of glass and metal. Of course, that comes at the expense of weight — this thing weighs in at 1.1kg / 2.43lbs.
Drones can be useful tools in urban areas, where they're utilized for everything from news reporting to building inspections, but flying in these areas requires careful preparation. Here's what you need to know to do so safely.
Hasselblad has released a new cable release and USB double battery charger for its X1D medium format camera .
After a report published by NBC News, Flickr has taken heat for allegedly letting IBM 'scrape' photos for use in its facial recognition datasets. But the problem isn't what it seems on the surface.
Samyang has announced the impending arrival of the AF 85mm F1.4 FE lens for full-frame Sony cameras.
Some Photoshop shortcuts are simple and obvious. Others, not so much. Here are 15 shortcuts that are actually useful.
Twitter has redesigned its in-app camera for easier access from the timeline screen.
Independent cinema lens manufacturer SLR Magic has announced it will offer all of its existing MicroPrime range in the Fujifilm X mount and has even created a Fuji-specific 12mm lens.