Control Your Background

October 17th, 2011 by Steve Gettle

When people look at my work, one of the questions I get asked more often than any other is how I get such nice backgrounds. The answer is I work very hard to control the backgrounds in my images. I like to get nice monochromatic, out of focus backgrounds because this type of background makes my subject stand out. These monochromatic backgrounds are also free of distractions that would pull the viewer’s eye away from the subject of my photograph.

The way I achieve these backgrounds is by making sure that there is separation between my subject and the background. This separation renders my subject sharp, and makes the background a nice out of focus blur. It also gives the image a sense of depth.

For the image of the Cedar Waxwing accompanying this post, the background is a line of trees 50 yards behind the bird. I shot this at f8 which is enough depth of field to cover the bird and its beautiful perch. But at f8 the trees are rendered as a completely out of focus blur of color.

Browse Steve’s images, read his blog, and learn about his workshops at his site



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