Allen's Hummingbird, Female, (c) Photo by Steve Kaye

Photo Backgrounds Matter | May 2016

Photo Backgrounds Matter

Allen's Hummingbird, Female, (c) Photo by Steve Kaye, in blog post: Photo Backgrounds Matter

Allen’s Hummingbird, Female

Photo Tip: Why Photo Backgrounds Matter.

1) Graphic Design

Art consists of positive space (the subject) and negative space (the background).

Both work together in making a photo effective.

For example, notice how the plain green background in the above photo isolates the flying hummingbird.

Also, I’ve left room (negative space) in front of the bird, which creates a sense of dynamic movement.

Allen's Hummingbird, Male, (c) Photo by Steve Kaye, in blog post: Photo Backgrounds Matter

Allen’s Hummingbird, Male

2) Dramatic Impact

Sometimes vivid color enhances a photo.

Here, a background of red Bougainvillea flowers helps make this a unique view of the hummingbird.

Allen's Hummingbird, Juvenile Male, (c) Photo by Steve Kaye, in blog post: Photo Backgrounds Matter

Allen’s Hummingbird, Juvenile Male

3) Artistic Expression

Unexpected colors can add enchantment to a photo.

This photo, taken in the shade against a bright floral background, conveys a different story.

What Can You Do?

If you take photos of birds, experiment with different backgrounds. For example, you might:

a) Try different views that offer different colors, patterns, or types of light.

b) Experiment with small adjustments. Sometimes a small step sideways will improve a background. For example, this might eliminate a dark spot caused by a shadow.

c) Take photos of the same subject using different types of backgrounds. Then compare how the background changes the story told by the photo.

Much success,

Steve Kaye

Find More Photo Tips at:

Seasons with a Black Phoebe

The Joy of Photographing Details

6 Ingredients for Bird Photography

How to Be Lucky

How to Find an Elegant Trogon

Help Birds Tip

Keep Cats Indoors

Why: Cats are one of the few predators that can catch a hummingbird.

Here’s an article that tells how you, your cat, and birds all benefit: See Keep Your Cat Safe

Did You Know?

The most effective way to help birds is to buy land.

Here are three organizations that excel at doing this.

1) American Bird Conservancy

2) The Nature Conservancy

3) The Trust for Public Land

Please visit their web sites to learn about the work they do.

Here’s an excellent book: The American Bird Conservancy Guide to Bird Conservation

You can help – Please share this blog with others.
Inspiring Respect for Nature, one bird at a time.

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  • Lynda Curtin
    Posted at 16:52h, 26 May

    These are stunning photos, Steve! Thank you for the inspiration.

  • Kristin Risley
    Posted at 19:32h, 26 May

    Absolutely gorgeous! Thank you for sharing these hummers with me, Steve. How do you get the backgrounds so “smooth”? Mine are usually just blurry shapes or grainy.

  • Steve Kaye
    Posted at 20:09h, 26 May

    Thank you for your questions about these backgrounds. Those are real, natural backgrounds. They appear blurred because they’re relatively far, about 10 ft (3 m), from the hummingbird and because the depth of field is very small, about half an inch (1 cm).

  • Susan Bulger
    Posted at 20:37h, 26 May

    Cats are excellent non-native predators and letting them outside is unfair to native wildlife squeezed in ever smaller places between our homes. Catch, spay and release is a terrible cat program. They will kill hundreds of native species in their miserable lifetimes.

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