The Foreground Block

In wildlife photography, everyone craves for that fantastic creamy smooth background.

Comments such as 

  • Lovely Bokeh
  • What a background
  • Smooth BG
  • Clean nice BG

do the rounds of social media every minute. I have also met a lot of photographers claiming that they are known for the smooth backgrounds their images have. 

Well, truth be told I don’t have anything against the clean backgrounds but there is no harm talking a little about an impactful blurry foreground either. Foregrounds are much trickier to deal than background and thus are probably one of the most unexplored facets of wildlife photography. They are more challenging in terms of visualizing the image and have the power to completely ruin images as well if not used well.

To start the process of including this in your thought process, when shooting a common subject next time, take a look at your surroundings and check if there is something in the foreground that can be used to add depth and value to the image. For e.g. take a look at the image of the Black Capped Night Heron below. It was a standard image until I found this tiny hole in a bush through which I could see the bird. I tried to include that hole as an out of focus element in the image and it suddenly gave a whole new dimension/perspective to it.

 There are just a couple of things that one needs to keep in mind

  1. Make sure the foreground object is very close to you so that you render it as blur as possible
  2. Make sure that the object does not appear as a solid contrasting blob. That would be a recipe for bad images
  3. Keep that aperture wide open to take advantage of the bokeh.
  4. With a froeround almost blocking your view, AF becomes challenging and a lot of times you will have to help your camera by manually assisting it with the focus dial. 

The Steppe Eagle here is a result of such an attempt as well. If you have been to Jorbeed, you would know how easy it is to get portraits of Steppe Eagles. Sometimes I feel that if I close my eyes and just randomly point the camera somewhere, I might get a steppe eagle image, they are that numerous there in the right season. Well, so next time you head out to Jorbeed, do try to make use of the low shrubs that abound the place…Some might work, many won’t but it’s always good to get one that works. 

Here are a couple more from the birding world where I got a chance to experiment with the foregrounds

Generally we avoid too much of foreground elements in wildlife photography but think a little differently and use that foreground to your advantage if possible. 

Take a look at the following example of a couple of my friends at Bharatpur. This one was purely clicked with this blog in mind 🙂

Thanks Sanjoy, Illias and Rajiv Sir for being my subjects here..

So go ahead, visit your most known place and search for foregrounds to help you

I hope these blog are helpful guys. If there is absolutely anything that you want to know more about, please feel free to comment or drop me a message and I’ll cover it in a blog post soon.


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One Comment

  1. Richa April 24, 2017 at 6:25 am #

    Very informative Rahul. Thanks for sharing.

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