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The Plain of Focus

When it comes to wildlife, the background and foreground are very important elements that not only tell the story of where that critter lives but can also be very distracting. A good wildlife image plays on your emotions and gets you enjoying that subject. Distracting elements can easily bring a viewer out of that moment. That’s why using a narrower plain of focus not only makes for more interesting images but is a simple way to clean up busy foregrounds and backgrounds.

Now one of the most common examples you see today of this involves shore birds. A lot of great photographs have been put out there of shorebirds where the photographer got down low to change the plain of focus. This technique works just as well with large mammals but often times is easiest to accomplish if the subject is up on a hill and you’re beneath the hill. This was taken with the D5 and 600 f/4. I was watching this small bull Elk come up the hill to where the cows were. Watching it’s behavior it was easy to place myself where I thought he would pop up and sure enough did. He was keeping his eye on his herd and on me. Knowing this behavior, watching the light and the plain of focus, is how you get great wildlife images.

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