Author Topic: What to do with cluttered backgrounds?  (Read 7653 times)

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Offline Fud

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What to do with cluttered backgrounds?
« on: February 27, 2007, 08:07:48 AM »
A couple of trees near me have already come in to blossom with no leaves yet

so thought might be good photo opportunity.  However in taking close-ups it  proved to be impossible to get a clear picture without a mottled background that is distracting




The only alterantive was to go for a less blurred background to put the flowers in to context but then it makes the point of focus harder to see


What is the solution (apart from taking cuttings from the tree back to an unbuilt macro studio)?
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Offline tpe

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Re: What to do with cluttered backgrounds?
« Reply #1 on: February 27, 2007, 09:15:49 AM »
It should be manditory to carry a rolled up bits of card in various colours and some bulldog clips, then possibly a couple of neutral density filters to bring those f stops down to 2.8 or whatever your minimum is, or set the exposure compensation to -2  ev. I reallly like the middle two, it must be spring where you are, some people have all the luck :).

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Offline Fud

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Re: What to do with cluttered backgrounds?
« Reply #2 on: February 27, 2007, 09:23:58 AM »
it must be spring where you are, some people have all the luck :).

tim
It's a little bit worrying though when spring comes about 4-6 weeks earlier than normal!
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Offline gazraa

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Re: What to do with cluttered backgrounds?
« Reply #3 on: February 27, 2007, 09:42:25 AM »
for the second and third shots, some masking and blurring of the background in photoshop could help a bit more, even a little desaturation too might help, but not to the point of black and white background.

The fourth is a little harder as the blossom are a similar colour to that of the sky poking through. Maybe a different angle where the branch in question is only half overlapping the background branches, if you see what I mean, so it stands out. Or maybe using flash to darken the background a bit more while still lighting the right branch.
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Offline fother

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Re: What to do with cluttered backgrounds?
« Reply #4 on: February 27, 2007, 11:11:12 AM »

If you can pull a branch apart from the others a bit - create some distance between it and the effective backdrop, then use a narrow dof, that can help... to pull the branch in, maybe a plamp or similar

or maybe have a backdrop card/sheet you can use behind the focal branch?

Offline frankman

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Re: What to do with cluttered backgrounds?
« Reply #5 on: February 27, 2007, 12:27:44 PM »
Fud - I agree with 2 of the methods previously mentioned. Pull a branch to one side and shoot away from the centre of the tree, or use HSS flash If you have the 3600 or 5600), which will illuminate your subject but leave the background dark.

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Offline sprint16v

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Re: What to do with cluttered backgrounds?
« Reply #6 on: February 27, 2007, 05:30:06 PM »
Bowsaw :-)
or shoot from tree trunk outwards for less foliage?
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Offline xeroid

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Re: What to do with cluttered backgrounds?
« Reply #7 on: February 27, 2007, 08:17:06 PM »
Is this a possible 2 layer fiddle solution. 2 images, fuzz the back layer and then erase parts of the in-focus top layer.
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Offline fother

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Re: What to do with cluttered backgrounds?
« Reply #8 on: February 28, 2007, 11:26:49 PM »
Don't even need to erase... you can select the branch in focus as a smart object, then apply lens blur (Filter->Blur->Lens Blur in Photoshop) to the rest of the image -- a simluation of a narrow DoF, which can bring it out more...

Edit: Moving this thread to Digital Photography Techniques > Taking Photos :)

Offline ISO3200

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Re: What to do with cluttered backgrounds?
« Reply #9 on: March 04, 2007, 12:13:40 AM »
A couple of trees near me have already come in to blossom with no leaves yet

Yeah, some species do that. Nice photo op.

The bokeh is not too distracting in the first two shots, but the flowers that fall on a white patch do not stand out very well; which is the real trouble. I actually enjoy a mottled backdrop from time to time, as it suggests structure.

Careful composition and patience will usually lend you an angle where things are just right. Also look at longer macro lenses, like 150-200mm, as they have a narrow field of view (same depth of field mind you) and often a better bokeh for it. Sometimes fancy a creamy featureless backdrop, sometimes not.

Either way, your sensor needs a clean. I see some dust. ;)
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Offline winjeel

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Re: What to do with cluttered backgrounds?
« Reply #10 on: March 19, 2007, 09:16:59 AM »
That looks like a plum tree, the sort (variety) that I thought only appeared in Japan. I like the second and third ones, but I'd position myself to ensure a darker background. Also, consider taking a small branch (which I err... never do), and take it back to your studio to shoot with a black background.
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Offline Clive

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Re: What to do with cluttered backgrounds?
« Reply #11 on: March 20, 2007, 03:47:04 PM »
Winjeel mentioned dark background. That is the ticket.

I'll take some heat over this reply as it may be difficult for you. (I am blessed to live where we get 2,400 bright sunshine hours each year, so it affects what we can do when taking flower pictures.) IF (if if if) you can shot flowers on a sunny day, then try to get the background in the shade. It makes the world of difference as the background becomes very dark--sometimes even black. It certainly is difficult with trees and even more difficult when the background is a mass of light flowers. But still, if (if if) you can get the primary subject in the sun and figure out a way to get the background in shade, it can help. Sometimes you need to carry sunscreens--pieces of cardboard cartons. If the images are critical, then a step ladder can help as well--as can an assistant to hold the sun shade. The image below was taken at ground level--versus in a tree--but you see the effects of shade. There is "stuff" in the background here, but it is all in shade. It was just a matter of positioning to get the flowers and shade right. Nothing has been done to this original image. Again, this can only work when the sun is shining and that can be a problem. 



Added a second shot .. same idea...more clutter in the bg, but it is subdued in the shadow..



« Last Edit: March 20, 2007, 03:50:35 PM by Clive »
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