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Photo Tip: Don't Forget About the Background
Changing the focus point, adjusting the aperture and depth of field, and setting the ISO and shutter speed are a few techniques we've reviewed in the past. But one of the easiest things to do requires no special knowledge of your camera or even an understanding of photography. Pay attention to the background. The background can help set the scene or add some dramatic color. Sometimes it’s as simple as making sure the background doesn’t compete with your subject.
Beautiful bride in Xian, China from two perspectives
In the first example, we’ll look at this beautiful bride in Xian, China from two different perspectives. The first photo allows us to focus on the bride and her dress with the grey pollution of the city providing a simple background. But move back a few steps and include the red lanterns in the background, and you have an entirely different image. 

Colorful King Penguins in Antarctica
These colorful King Penguins will illustrate our second point. While I think the picture of the bride benefits from the inclusion of the lanterns, I like the penguins better with the dark sky from the approaching storm adding some great color to the background. The picture of all of the penguins is what most people will capture. The photographer is standing up, sees all of the penguins, and takes the picture. It’s a nice photo with the cute fuzzy babies in front of the adults. But if you simply kneel down a little, you can capture the dramatic color of the sky contrasting with the black, white and yellow of the King Penguin and get a completely different image.

Sculpture of a woman on a bike
I think our third point might be the easiest. Just try to make sure the background isn’t distracting from your subject. Here we have a nice sculpture of a woman on a bike. Seems simple enough. But you'll notice in the first photo, the lines of the roof, the scalloped edges of the tiles, even the lantern sticking out under her arm could be a little distracting. A couple of steps to the right and hold the camera a little higher, and now the sculpture is nicely framed by the archway behind it. To be honest, I would rather not have the top of the doorway behind her head, but I hope you get the idea!

So there you have it, try to notice the background. Sometimes less is more, as with the penguins….while other times more is more, like adding the lanterns to the bride photo. But whatever you like better, trying a few different perspectives can give you some interesting results.

Written by Doug Orens, Vice President, Plaza Travel

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