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Submitted on
June 6, 2012
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44 (who?)
This series of articles aims to answer the questions of Photographers on deviantART who have burning issues with their cameras. Have an issue? Leave a comment at the end of the article and we'll do our best to help you figure out the answer. Additionally if you have information that could help someone out - let us know!

"From when I used to do photography what I struggled with most was the backgrounds, I wanted to focus in on the objects and then I'd take it to my tutors and they'd go "it's nice but the background is your desk, or your bookshelf" Unless I'm shooting on an infinity curve I struggle to 'see' appropriate backgrounds for my set up..." FionaCreates

Black and White Pebbles by Spanishalex

"Hi FionaCreates, backgrounds can either be a part of the photograph or apart from it (I'm quite pleased with what I did there :B).

Many still life images, particularly in a 'studio' on 'constructed' setting (as in, you put the subjects somewhere purposely to take a photograph of them) have the focus almost entirely on the subject itself. In this case, simplicity is key. If you can, try to buy or find some large sheets of white paper or cardboard, what you use will depend on your setup of course. Put your subject on the front of the sheet closest to you or your camera, get some books or a wall or a chair or whatever is convenient and stick the sheet of paper vertically on to it. This should make for a smooth and plain background that the subject will sit on.

Background by jonnakronlid

Of course, once you've done this, you can go experiment with different colours and even patterns to the paper. With very large sheets or rolls of paper you can even use this for other sorts of photography, such as portraiture. This option is similar to using a light tent, which allows you to use the same paper principle as previously mentioned, as well as providing other advantages, how to make a light tent can show you how to make one for next to nothing.

Background by meta4ical714

Another option to abstract the subject from the background is to make the background as blurred as possible, this is a function of Depth of Field, and at its most basic, is affected by three things. The Focal Length of the lens, the Aperture of the lens, and the distance between the background the subject and you. For the uninitiated, the Depth of Field is at its most basic, the distance in front of and behind the focal plane (as in, what you actually focused on) that looks 'sharp' or in focus. There are, of course, numerous things that make this field a little more ambiguous then it actually is. For example, the larger the image is reproduced at, the smaller the depth of field can appear to be, which is something related to the Circle of Confusion which goes beyond the scope of the question. Virtually any camera can produce a blurred background by manipulation of one or more of the three previously mentioned attributes of focal length, aperture and subject distance.

Rainbow Milk Splash by La-Vita-a-Bella

For the sake of ease:

:bulletblack:Longer Focal Lengths will decrease Depth of Field
:bulletblack:Larger Aperture (smaller F numbers) will decrease Depth of Field
:bulletblack:Shorter Subject distance between the subject and you will also decrease Depth of Field.

This decrease in Depth of Field will help to ensure that the background is actually blurred compared to the subject. Extremely short Depth of Field can make parts of the subject itself blurred, which is particularly apparent with Macro photography. Experimenting with combining all three of the aforementioned variables will hopefully lead to some smooth and distinct (from the subject) backgrounds." ~ sine-out

Previous Troubleshooting Articles

The second edition of Photography Troubleshooting explores the difficulties with getting that perfect background. Here ^sine-out offers some tips and feedback! Enjoy!
Add a Comment:
meta4ical714 Featured By Owner Jun 24, 2012  Student Traditional Artist
Thank you for using my background! It's really cool, and I seriously appreciate it! ^^ Wonderful article.
Kaz-D Featured By Owner Jul 1, 2012  Hobbyist Photographer
JamminJo Featured By Owner Jun 14, 2012  Hobbyist Photographer
Added to #DevNews posting on June 15, 2012.
marob0501 Featured By Owner Jun 13, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
I am not bothering about the background in Macrophotography, only by normal photography, especially when you are photographing plants in a glasshouse . How can you get rid of the background, I only suppose by photoshopping ???
Kaz-D Featured By Owner Jun 15, 2012  Hobbyist Photographer
Yes mostly :( Or zooming in, so having a closer lens!
marob0501 Featured By Owner Jun 15, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
claremanson Featured By Owner Jun 6, 2012  Hobbyist Artisan Crafter
now i am using manual focus i will have to give the whole blurred background more of a go sometime :) thank you :heart:
Kaz-D Featured By Owner Jun 7, 2012  Hobbyist Photographer
You should! How's manual working out?> :)
claremanson Featured By Owner Jun 8, 2012  Hobbyist Artisan Crafter
it's ok, haven't had any time to bake so haven't done any food photography with it but it is lovely being able to choose what object is the focus, the problem is being able to tell if it is actually in focus in the tiny little view finder so at the moment my photos are half in and half out of focus!
I will have to get a new lens soon though for auto focus when it comes to taking photos of the kids! though for still life i think i will use my current lens for manual (so not to over use the new one!)
La-Vita-a-Bella Featured By Owner Jun 6, 2012   Photographer
Thanks for including my shot of the Rainbow Milk Splash in your tutorial. :hug:
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