Story and photography by John E. Marriott
During a recent critique session at one of my workshops in Jasper National Park, I realized there’s one key compositional misstep that continuously slides under the radar in wildlife photography, whether people are photographing bears, beavers or bald eagles.
Most photographers, young or old, male or female, tend to start their photo careers with every subject dead centre in the image. They then quickly graduate to moving an animal around in the frame, but often struggle with placement of the animal too close to the edge, or worse yet, cutting off the tips of a wing or an antler, or chopping off the feet of their subject. But most photographers can learn to avoid these mistakes fairly quickly by analyzing the work of other photographers and by listening to feedback from their peers and from workshop leaders like myself. These are slip-ups that are easy to see and that budding wildlife shooters can work to remedy in the field on the fly once they know what they’re looking to sidestep, even when they’re also equally as conscious about shutter speed, aperture, ISO and focus settings.
However, it’s not quite as natural for photographers to pay attention compositionally to what’s going on behind their subject …