Background is a key element of the image, pay attention to it

My last blogpost written a couple of months back was about going ground level to get a great perspective of the subject. This one is about doing exactly the opposite. And for a specific reason.

Many folks using a camera are very obsessed with ensuring that the subject in their frame is tack-sharp. And they tend to forget that an image is composed not just of the subject but how it is positioned in the frame and the background against which it is thus placed. So, there are really 3 key elements of a good image – the subject itself, how it is composed and the background.  

I have found that there are times that one can really “change” the background of the image by changing the way one shoots. I came across one such opportunity recently on a trip to Tal Chapar. We came across this Laggar Falcon (juvenile) sitting on a nice perch. It was 5 mins to 6pm and though the light had dropped precipitously in the last 10 mins, there was this wonderful golden glow that was making the grassland look magical. 

The first image that I shot (the one above) was from inside the vehicle as soon as we reached the falcon and had switched off the engine. I realised immediately, that from the angle that we were shooting, I could not avoid getting a bit of the sky in the frame.  And this was not letting me capture the glow of the setting sun bouncing off the dry grass.

So, I alerted my co-passengers, opened my door (which was on the side away from the falcon – hopefully, minimising any  chance of startling the bird), used the top of the vehicle as a base and shot the second image (the one below). I was probably a foot or two above the level of the bird and this helped me look down a bit at the subject and completely avoid the sky in the background.


The two images were shot exactly 57 seconds apart with exactly the same camera settings. The second image is what works for me, what do you think?

Shot with a Nikon D500, 600 f/4 + 1.4 TC

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