Travel Photography | Part III | Background & Levels of Scale


Something as simple as altering the background can greatly enhance the aesthetic of a photo. Sometimes the subject will blend in and get lost in the background. Usually, it can be as easy as crouching down or photographing at a different angle. When photographing people, repositioning them to a better background can make all the difference. Shooting away from the bright sun (as opposed to into the sun) will also increase the depth and saturation of colors, resulting in a much more pleasing photo. In addition to physically moving the subject or the camera, changing the depth of field to “blur” the background is also a good technique I use frequently with portraits and in nature. This allows you to keep the focus on the subject and not be distracted by the background. With the photos of the orchids shown below, in one I stood behind the orchids and used the sun to backlight the flowers and have a shadow as a background.

In the other, I positioned myself directly in front and I used the sun to front light the orchid, using a large aperture (f/2.8) to blur the background slightly. Each techniques creates such a different effect, it becomes a personal preference.   


When I travel, I am aware of at least 3 levels of scale when I am taking photos. I take photos of the whole landscape, one taken closer to get a feel for the texture and color of the environment, and then one still closer, perhaps a macro shot of a detail. The point of this is to allow the viewer to really “feel” the place at all levels. I want them to experience it as if they had been there.