The importance in the choice of the background – part I

One of the common mistake I made when I started taking photos was not paying enough attention to the background. Although not always easy to choose, sometime the background can just ruin a beautiful photo. Below you have examples of interesting subjects but poor choice of background.

The first two photos were taken  at the first sporting event I tried as a photographer. I was at the start of my learning curve and did not know much beside shutter speed, autofocus and pressing the button. It’s really when I got home and looked at the photos on my computer that the word “shit” came to my mind. Most of my photos were taken near the start/finish line. There is always a fence. something or someone in the background to distract the attention viewer. It is even more distracting when it is something large enough that you can actually read. Your attention automatically goes on the word, not the real subject.

This year, same event, same course but this time I promised myself not to make the same mistake. I chose the location I would go to with in mind the chice of the background before going to the event. In this case I know to course so it was easy to pick a few spots that though would offer a nice background.


I did look at the course the night before and choose the spots where I wanted to. Remember have a plan A, B and C in case you are not the first one on the spot. It is really annoying when you have 2 or 3 photographers for one spot. If you happen to take photos on the street, one tool that you can use to view in advance is Google Street View. I used this tool for another bike race. It will give you an idea of where the event will happen before you go there. It’s not perfect but it is there and free. Although not perfect, I was more please with my photos this year that those of last year.

If you do not have the choice of the background and you know it will be distracting then what ….. blur it. You have two option, use a large aperture or a long focal lenght on your zoom lens, you will get a blurred background. This will be next Sunday post.

Year one

In this photo the word behind the cyclist is distracting


Here there is just too many things happening in the background


Year two

The background could have beeen more blurred but green grass and grey rocks are less distracting

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Here I went with a longer focal lenght blurring even more the background

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