Changing your background to change a photo

Photography in Connecticut, New Haven county snow photos

It’s snowing here in Connecticut as I write, and I think it might be the last of the season–here’s to an early spring!  But photos with snow cover are a great way to illustrate a little trick that can make all the difference when you’re taking close-up photos of anything in the environment (even people!).  A great way to make your photo stand out is to make your main subject separate itself from its background.  One way to do this is to use a shallow depth of field, as I mentioned in a previous post; another way is to make the background light in color if your subject is dark, or vice-versa.  In this photo, you can see that snow is the focus, but the photo doesn’t have impact because it’s basically white on white:

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The shape of the twig comes through nicely, but there isn’t a real wow factor.  So I decided to move around a bit, and within the next 10 inches of space there was a more interesting twig.  Most importantly, I moved almost 180 degrees so that the background of the twig was no longer white snow cover, but instead something else:

snow macro for blog-1


Do you want to guess what it is?  A beautiful bay?  Frozen water on a lake?  Actually it’s a dark nook in my driveway and our recycling bin ;-).  Because I’m using a shallow depth of field, just about ANY dark background will work to make the snow pop, and the fact that the bin is blue is a bonus, as it adds some color to the photo, which I think it needed.  Because I liked how the blues looked and the almost ombre effect, I decided to frame the photo a little bit differently too, to add more focus to the color and the way it transitions to white.

snow macro for blog-3

You can also create an interesting effect by putting the sun behind your subject–this usually makes anything wet get a little bit glittery.  This wouldn’t work as well if my background was very light, as you wouldn’t be able to see the circles, which are really just very out-of-focus pinpoints of light from snowflakes and droplets of water.  Next time you’re out taking photos, experiment with taking a photo, then walking around your subject til you find a more effective background color to highlight it.  It’s amazing how much a photo can change.

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