Cluttered Background? Insert Your Own

June 15th, 2012 by Mike Moats

Every macro photographer will eventually run into a great looking flower with character, but with a horrible cluttered background.  All is not lost: you can insert your own background! You can photograph and print your own backgrounds and just place them behind the flower. Now, some may say “that’s cheating” but hey, we’re not journalists, we’re creating art.

Here’s a good example of a nice group of flowers at a botanical garden, and no camera angle or small f/stop will get rid of the clutter.

By inserting my own background, I saved this shot from the trash can.

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Here is how you do it. For a green background, find a grassy field or even the grass in your backyard.   Set up your tripod and set your f/stop to the smallest number. This is the how the subject looked when in focus.

Now just turn the focusing ring on your lens till it becomes out of focus and a solid color like this.  Photograph it,  and print a copy on matte paper.

Here’s another subject, some bushy stuff on the ground.

This time I didn’t take it all the way out of focus, I just took it to a point where I had some slight textures.

Here is another subject that has some pinkish flowers, so it will give me another color to work with.

Here is the out of focus image, and this subject gives me a little different color.


You can also take any of these out of focus backgrounds into photoshop and adjust the tint to change the color. Here is the last image and I changed the color in photoshop to a more grayish green. You can play with the colors until you get what you want.

Print your backgrounds to a size convenient for you to carry into the field. Most subjects are small, so you can get by with an 8X10 print. Attach the print to some cardboard or foam core, or anything to stiffen it. You can then hand hold it behind the subject to be photographed.

You can visit Mike’s blog and learn about his workshops here: Tiny Landscapes

Mike’s eBooks are available in the OPG store here: Mike Moats

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