or…“What to do with those animals that won’t stay out of your frame in the background!”
Many people like photographing their wildlife subjects against clean backgrounds with minimal distractions. There are even some that lambaste the presence of other out-of-focus animals in the frame as being “distracting”. Given, they CAN be distracting if they are not adding to the overall story and context and composition, especially if they are not easily discernible or criss-crossing behind your subject in certain ways.
I do however enjoy working with multiple subjects in photos that incorporate shallow depth-of-field (DOF). I find it adds to some of the visual aesthetics if used properly (and if the other subjects are cooperative). There are two scenarios that typically play out in the field: one where you have animals of the same species in the frame, and one where you have animals of various species in the frame.
There are no real “rules” or 7-point-plans to spell out for you here. You need to look at the scene presented to you, and work it. Try and position yourself so you can have your main subject isolated from the rest, preferably not “bisected” by another animal behind it. Try and wait for the poses to align or be somewhat similar. Try and anticipate a photographic moment…these can be fleeting and you need to be alert. Use wide-ish aperture settings for good DOF on the subject while blurring the background nicely. This will differ for each camera/lens combo you use.
Here are some images where I was fortunate to have animals of the same species working together for a photo:
And here are some images incorporating various species:
I hope this short post has given you inspiration for some creative compositions and story-telling images the next time you are in the bush.
Until you hear from me again, keep those shutter fingers warm and flexible!
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