Look for the Opening in the Clutter

Posted: October 19, 2015 in Uncategorized


Getting that nice solid colored blurred background is all about finding the right camera angle. Most macro photographers that I have worked with in field workshops will find a subject, plop down in front of it, and shoot without ever exploring all the camera angles for the least clutter background.
Here is an image of a cluttered field with some white daisy flowers that I am going to shoot. My subject is the small white daisy just above the center of the frame. As you can see it is really cluttered all around the flower, but if you work all the camera angles, you can sometimes find a gap where the background is far enough away to get a nice solid colored blurred background.


I have shot this flower at different camera angles to show what you will get for a background if you are not paying attention. In the camera angle of the first image, you can see in the background a small flower near the bottom left corner, and stems of grass throughout the background. In this very tight cluttered surroundings you will have to shoot in the low f-stop numbers to help blur the background. I was shooting at f/3.5 with my 180mm macro lens. On all four images I placed the point of focus near the front part of the flowers yellow center area. Now at this small f/stop number and very shallow depth of field, you will not get the whole flower in focus. Under the conditions of all this close clutter and using a low f/stop number we will have to sacrifice some focus on the flower to get our nice solid blurred background if we are not using focus stacking.


In the next angle you see another flower in the background and more stems including some distracting beige colored stems that stand out and pull your eye away from the main subject.


On this third angle you are seeing the grey color of the 4X4 post and some more multi colored stems.


With the last image I was able to find a camera angle where there was a small opening through all the clutter with the background subjects far enough away that I could get a nice solid colored blurred background at f/3.5.


Although it is tough working in these conditions, you can still pull off a decent shot by working the camera angles.


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  1. Rick Berger says:

    Hey Mike,
    This is an excellent lesson showing that by simply moving around to a different angle you can produce a far better image. Also, I know that you joke about how your photo skills are excellent but how you’re a terrible writer even though you’re wife is a teacher. Well, your writing now has improved 100%! Have you gotten your wife to edit your pieces? Either way, keep up the good work. Your blogs are terrific!

    • Mike Moats says:

      Rick, no my wife is to busy to help me so I’m doing it all myself. Glad it looks like I’m getting better at the writing, thanks.

  2. […] Ever see a pretty flower and quickly take a picture to only be disappointed because of the clutter around or in behind the flower?  I have and still work at this.  Mike Moats recently re-posted an interesting article on this subject.  I feel Mike shows very well the process we all go through and help encourage all of us photographers to keep working at finding the opening in the clutter.  Take a moment to read, “Look for the Opening in the Clutter.” […]

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