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Beware distracting backgrounds: Fix the Pix, Episode 6
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Beware distracting backgrounds: Fix the Pix, Episode 6

"Hey, what's with that tree growing out of my head?"

When taking photos of your friends and loved ones with your digital camera, pay attention to what’s going on behind them. Otherwise, unintentional hilarity might ensue.


Today's Fix The Pix was photographed with a Casio Exilim EX-Z29.

The human eye and brain have the amazing ability to see only what it wants to see. You look at a scene and subconsciously your brain and eyes work together to focus attention on whatever you feel is important and ignore what isn’t. Cameras have no such ability, and they faithfully record everything they capture--whether you want them to or not.

Here’s what could happen if you’re not paying attention to what’s going on in the background:


Next time you're photographing people—either individually or in groups—watch your background. If there's a tree behind someone's head, it will look like it's growing out of their head because the two dimensional print (or image on screen) flattens space, and plays tricks on your eyes.

The easy way: Move a bit. If you see a tree or similarly distracting element in the background, shift your position. That’s what I did to fix the background in the image above. Moving a few inches or a couple of feet can help to reorganize the background so it's not fighting the foreground.

The more advanced way: Move a lot. If you see a hopelessly distracting background, and no amount of lateral movement on your part is helping, move both you and your subject to another location entirely and avoid the distracting background.

Not sure if the background is distracting? After you've taken the shot, look at the image in preview mode. See a tree sticking out of Aunt Gussie's head? Change positions, and re-shoot!

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