Many promising photos are let down by a poor or distracting background. Anything in the distance that competes for attention will naturally draw the eye away from the subject and the impact of the shot will instantly be lost.
A common problem is shooting with your subject too close to the background. This means that anything behind the subject appears in partial focus and the subject itself doesn’t stand out. Other potential hazards include photo background distractions such as burnt-out areas, out-of-focus ‘blobs’, competing colours and unwanted intrusions, such as foliage. The good news is that they are all easily avoided. Here’s how…
Step 1: Diffuse the background
Shoot against a background that is some distance behind the subject so it’s thrown out of focus. Use a mid to long telephoto lens and shoot at a wide aperture, like f/4, to reduce depth of field and produce a diffused background.
Step 2: Check the background
Shoot against a neutral coloured background that’s uniform in tone. It’s best to avoid high-contrast or very bright backgrounds. Check around the viewfinder for obvious distractions while composing the shot and move if necessary.
Step 3: Clone out distractions
In Photoshop, select an area of the background close to the area you want to clone out and use the Clone Stamp tool to ‘cover over’ the distraction. Use a soft-edged brush, set Opacity to around 60-80%, then build up gradually.