Let’s begin today’s post with our two guest photographers.

G. Dan Mitchell is a fine west coast photographer, who I am acquainted with via Facebook, and Flickr.

I love this entry way to a house in San Francisco. The outlandish but pretty colors say San Francisco. Unfortunately so does the dirty hallway and the (misplaced?) city garbage can.

A great, mood provoking image!  This non-nature photo, does sort of set the tone of today’s post about the trials and tribulation of backgrounds and foegrounds in photos.
1Entrance to home, San Francisco G Dan Mitchell

Next we have a terrific close-up of an adult Osprey feeding an almost fully grown offspring. There is nothing like feeling like we are actually there right next to the nest.

The image was made by Judy Schatter. Well-done!!

In addition to the subject matter and nice image quality, the above photo is good because of the unobtrusive and uncomplicated background of a uncluttered blue sky. Less is so often more.
2OspreyJudySchattner Photo

The rest of the images are mine, and I will begin with a photo that provokes a different mood from Judy‘s, although the background is alsso simple.

This American Kestrel with a mouse, was made on a fairly dark and dismal day. That said, the gray sky was a complimentary background that did not detract from the subject. The lack of any direct sunlight, makes this a bit more dismal than Judy’s, but the Kestrel’s colors are nicely saturated because of it.

When I made this image in New Mexico of a Greater Roadrunner, it was a first of that species for me. The last thing I wanted was a confusing background or bad image for any reason. Alas, you cannot tell a (beep, beep) Roadrunner what to do or where to go. The good news is, all of those winter marsh grasses were behind my subject.

Several years later, I had one more opportunity with this species while I was in west Texas. This time, I was so close to my subject, that getting the whole bird in the picture frame was almost impossible, and getting it sharp was even harder.

Sometimes we are forced to take what is given to us. The important part when it comes to wildlife, is that you click the shutter release and make the picture no matter what.

Another way to make busy backgrounds not so busy, is shoot full frame (or crop) images of the primary subject. The less background that shows, the less it matters. The image below is that of a female Sharp-tailed Grouse in North Dakota. All the brush is in back of the subject, and she almost takes up the entire picture frame, making the background almost irrelevant.

Busy backgrounds, become less significant, the further they are from the subject. Then if the depth of field used, is shallow enough to render the background soft and out of focus, it becomes even less important.

This handsome chap is a male Ring-necked Pheasant right here in Wisconsin.

Another great way to find simple, complimentary backgrounds, is to shoot birds (with a camera of course) which are in the water.

This first image is about a winter plumaged Horned Grebe, and nothing else. The background is clean and simple much like a single toned sky.
7Copy of DSC_0232

Water backgrounds can at times be busy, because they reflect what is around it. Then again, sometimes you get lucky.

Reddish brown reflections dotted this harbor as this gorgeous male Redhead Duck swam around. Those reflections are so nicely spaced, so gentle in their appearance, and they so perfectly compliment the color of this duck, that as I said, sometimes you just get lucky. I was first attracted to the water and those reflections. Then as can happen, I was smiled upon when that handsome redhead swam into the area.
8Dsc_BP7207 - Copy

Clean backgrounds, are even more important when you want the attention of future image viewers, to stay focused on behavior or action.

The fact that the sky behind these Sandhill Cranes was not dappled, or that there were no tree branches in the picture frame, left this image just as I wanted it to be, all about the birds and their behavior/action.


Keep it simple and God Bless,

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