Preparing the Scene

So. You’ve found the perfect background, the perfect foreground, you’ve got some visual interest and you’re ready to go. What now?

Prepare the scene!

Having a lot of sticks, branches, leaves and other small, fine, detailed objects can be very distracting. When you are getting ready to use your location, ask yourself if there is too much going on in the scene. If so, how can you manage it?

Maybe some grasses are fine, but some will be covering the dog, or spiking up at one corner of the frame. 

Maybe you want to use a branch as an overhead frame, but then notice there is another one jutting out of the dog’s neck.

Maybe your moss is strewn with thousands of tiny sticks (one of my favourite locations is exactly like this and it drives me crazy).

Always be checking: is there a way you can simplify the scene? Ideally we want: background, mid-ground/visual interest – purposeful and something that will work with our mood/story/subject/location. See the Visual Interest lesson for more!, and a soft foreground. 

What we don’t want, are a ton of additional “things” in the scene which have nothing to do with the image we’re creating.

Be especially conscious of: very straight vertical stalks, very detailed bushes with lots of needles, sticks sticking out of the dog anywhere, lying down/chin down photos with a lot of little leaves or twigs, busy grasses. The more detail there is, the more our eye will be drawn.

Therefore, clean up sticks, some leaves, grasses etc as necessary. This is not to say you need to completely clear your area of all foliage. It is to say that you need to be conscious about what elements you are purposefully including in the photo and whether they contribute to, or take away from, the overall image. Of course you can edit some things later, but it will save you a lot of work and heartache if you do it in location, when possible.