What Makes A Photo Work?

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Photo Comp Tip: Watch Your Backgrounds

Swans and a bit of luck, New Zealand, South Island.

The background definitely doesn't intrude in this photo!
Phase One 645DF, IQ180, 110mm lens, 1/90 second @ f8, ISO 35

 Many photos are ruined by busy or inappropriate backgrounds. Sometimes by changing your camera position or moving your subject you can frame your subject against a better background that makes a much stronger photograph. And this is something judges are keenly aware of! 

When looking through your viewfinder, look at all the elements as shapes and lines, rather than what they really are. How do these shapes and lines interact? Can you keep the shapes and lines of your subject separate from the shapes and lines elsewhere? One way to make the shapes and lines of your background disappear is to focus on your subject and throw the background out of focus. Or in a landscape, maybe you need a higher vantage point to remove the horizon if it is distracting, or get down really low so you just have the sky as the background. Or shoot on a misty day when the background is obscured. 

When editing your photos, can you darken the background or desaturate the colour so it is less distracting? The background is not as important as your subject, but it can ruin an otherwise wonderful subject if it is not kept under control.   

The 2016 Better Photography Magazine Photo of the Year Award is now on! Entries close on 7 September (late entries possible until 15 September) and first prize is a cool $5000 cash. Gold, Silver and Bronze Awards will be handed out and every entry will receive a short comment or suggestion from the judging panel. For more information, visit www.betterphotographyphotocomp.com.

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