When we think of good images in photography, outside the subject itself and the composition, a lot of emphasis is laid on the background and the subject in relation to it. I would like you to consider the foreground as an element as well. Let me illustrate this with three images that I shot of the Steppe Eagle recently at the Desert National Park in Jaisalmer.
When we first spotted this guy, he was sheltering in the shadow of a typical desert thorny shrub. We slowly circled around, made our approach and positioned our vehicle a little off his direct line of sight. Even through he did spot us, he wasn’t too bothered and continued to calmly hold his ground and sit. This was the first image that I clicked.
The sun was quite harsh and even though the bird was in the shadows (which has its own challenges) the background was quite sandy and was reflecting a lot of light which didn’t really make for anything interesting.
We waited for a few minutes for him to get used to our presence and I then decided to get off the vehicle – on the side of the vehicle away from him so that the movement wouldn’t spook him. My friends were anyways ready for flight shots in case he decided to take off. Using the vehicle as a cover I crawled forward to the front of the vehicle and stopped just ahead of the front wheel. Using a bean bag for support I then clicked this.
This was now starting to look much better. I had nearly lost the sandy patch behind him and the light reflecting off it. Plus I was in his direct line of sight. That is when I noticed that a few feet ahead, there was a patch of slightly taller grass between me and the eagle.
So, I edged ahead and took a look at how the scene looked through the viewfinder. It was perfect. The grass in the foreground was completely out of focus and was creating a nice bokeh of green. And so was the background. The Steppe Eagle was standing out in this sea of blurred grass and the sky looking like it was floating on a green cloud of sorts. And at that exact moment, he decided to open his mouth and yawn – maybe he was adjusting his crop, moving food around to make it sit more comfortably in its stomach. That just nailed it for me – the icing on the proverbial cake.