Have you ever absolutely nailed a great shot of a wargame diorama or model kit, but then realised that some background element really distracts from the subject?

We all do it at some point.

Hell, if you shoot people, kids or pets (especially outside), you’re probably doing it all the time. I am! Any shot in an uncontrolled environment has a risk of it happening. That includes the model building workshop bench, or the gaming convention room.

So how do you fight that?

Let’s take two scenarios, the answer to each both the same:

  1. You’re shooting a game diorama at a convention hall, and to get the right horizontal angle view, you are also unintentionally getting passerby’s and people standing by the table area, gawking.
  2. You’re shooting you model tank, set upon a white sheet of cloth or paper, curved and propped up to form a small backdrop. (That typically will take out unwanted background detritus behind the sheet, but shadows can be quite harsh, as well as creases in the sheet.)

One piece of advice is to keep the background out of focus when you’re shooting (wide aperture + distant background = blurry background. Even more so if you’re close to the main subject, such as in model kit shooting!). That helps a lot of the time simply by throwing distracting elements out of focus.

Another is to carefully choose your background before you place yourself and your subject. Again back in the sheets, haha.... take time to smooth wrinkles and ensure a clean sheet.

But sometimes it still happens. A artist’s paintbrush sticking out of the turret’s hatch! A person being a clown in the background at the convention hall. Some comedian doing “bunny ears” on your subject.

Now, a lot of the time you can save things in post. Desaturating the distracting element a bit can work. Removing some clarity from the distracting element with a brush in Lightroom can also improve things.

That often saves the shot.

Now, going beyond that and really removing elements takes a bit of know how.

You either shoot the shot again, or you get to know how masking in Photoshop works.