While leading a photography walk at the San Antonio Bay Appreciation Day in Seadrift, Texas this past Saturday, we came upon this juvenile Laughing Gull. There were some various colored buildings in the background and I realized that simply by walking a few feet — changing my perspective — I could completely change the background.
Backgrounds can make or break a photo. I’ve seen hundreds of otherwise good photos with lousy backgrounds. While these gull shots are nothing special, they are a good example of being aware of the background. It was an overcast day, so light direction was not a problem. The gull was fairly tolerant of us walking around. This situation was ripe for experimenting with different backgrounds.
With wildlife photography we often don’t have the luxury of being able to walk around a subject and change the background (or changing our perspective). However, being aware of the situation will allow you move yourself when conditions do allow. It’s easy to get fixated on your subject and not notice what the background looks like. After taking a couple of frames, try to settle down, notice the background, light, etc. and see if maybe it’s possible to improve the image simply by changing your perspective.