One of the best skills you can learn in photography is isolating your subject.
This will help you to tell your story, show the moment, without your viewer having to guess what they should be looking at.
In wildlife photography this normally means using a telephoto lens and getting in tight but that is the easy way and, let’s be honest, doesn’t take all that much skill.
All you need is a big lens, a stationary subject and then fill the frame.
Yes, there are times when you want to fill the frame but in order to create a more diverse portfolio of images and tell different stories, here are a few other ways in which you can isolate your subject in the frame.
Change Your Angle to Isolate Your Subject
One of the easiest way to isolate a subject in your frame is to look at and change your point of view.
By moving a little bit up or down, side to side, you can remove any distracting elements from your viewfinder. In the above image, I dropped as low as I could on the game viewer in order to reduce the amount of green background behind the leopard helping to isolate it in the scene.
Using Depth of Field to Isolate Your Subject
Long telephoto lenses and large apertures make for a very shallow depth of field which can be very effective in isolating a subject from potentially distracting backgrounds.
Assuming that your subject and the background are not on the same plane of focus, simply focus on the subject (using a long telephoto lens) and use a large aperture to create that lovely soft background. Remember that apart from your chosen aperture, the distance from you to your subject will also affect the final look and feel of the image.
Using Movement to Isolate Your Subject
When a shallow depth of field won’t work you can get creative and use movement to isolate your subject in the frame.
By using a slow shutter speed and tracking along with a moving subject you allow the background to blur around a sharp and in focus subject – a great way to isolate the important parts of the image.
Wildlife photography is about capturing moments, about telling stories, and by isolating your subject in the frame you will be well on your way to doing just that!
Until next time.
Gerry van der Walt
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