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The use of a simplistic background can help concentrate the focus on your main subject(s). A plain, solid-colored background or a neutral background of some sort will keep your viewer's attention on the subjects in the foreground. If you have a lot of distracting shapes, colors, people, objects, or highlights behind your subject, then the focus will be shifted to those things. Try keeping your background clean and minimalistic, and you'll see your subjects pop.
Colors can be very distracting or they can complement each other nicely, depending on how you use them. A scene with too many colors will often look chaotic and although the focus may be shifted towards the brightest or most saturated colors, the other colors in the image will still be distracting. To isolate your subject, try eliminating the number of colors you have in your photograph to two or three. Make sure these colors work well with each other too. A turquoise vase sitting on a light blue bench against a dark blue sky may cause your photo to look like one big blue blur. If you really want to use color to your advantage, do some research on color theory and use the color wheel to combine hues that complement one another.
This is a great way to isolate your subject if it is moving. Say you're shooting a speeding car or a racehorse. By using a slower shutter speed and panning with the subject, you can keep your subject in sharp focus while causing the rest of the scene to appear blurry. This technique takes a little trial-and-error to master. The shutter speed has to be fast enough so that you're not causing blur by shaking the camera and you're able to keep your subject from being blurry. The faster the subject, the faster the shutter speed can be while still capturing a blurry background. However, this means you will also have to pan the camera a lot faster. Another problem may be that you're not able to get a sufficiently slow shutter speed in the daylight. To fix this, simply use an ND filter to block some of the incoming light.
Since photography is all about light, it makes sense that this is one of the best ways to isolate a subject. When looking at a photograph, our eyes naturally go to the brightest spot in the image. If this spot is not your main subject, then it will be very distracting. As a general rule, you'll want to keep your subject brighter than your background. The different levels of light will not only keep your viewer's attention on the subject, but will help provide a separation between your subject and the background. If the two are at the same light level, they will tend to blend together and the resulting image will look rather flat.
This is one of the easiest and most common ways to isolate a subject. By setting your camera to its maximum aperture setting, you can throw the background out of focus while keeping your main subject in focus. This especially helps when you have an unavoidable busy background. Shapes and colors will blur together and points of light will become pleasing bokeh. Keep in mind that your DOF will vary depending on your maximum aperture, focal length, and distance from your subject.
When all else fails, context can isolate a subject like nothing else. Which do you think would stand out more: a gray puppy in a litter of black puppies or a gray puppy in a litter of yellow kittens? Think of it in terms of “which of these things is not like the other?” or of “what is that thing doing there?”A photo of a rabbit in your backyard may not stand out. But a photo of rabbit on top of someone's head will definitely draw more attention.
Written by Spencer Seastrom