What you see in the in your viewfinder is what is going to end up in your photograph…and probably a bit more. Sometimes that is good and sometimes that is bad. You might end up getting things in your photograph that you really “saw” in your viewfinder but suddenly they are there when you look at the print.
For example, you are taking a photograph of your friend on the sidewalk. But when you view the print there is a telephone pole coming out the back of your friend’s head. It was there but you were concentrating on the eh subject and not on the background.
Threes have a way of appearing out of nowhere too…or tree branches. or signs. If you are taking a photograph in the house, find the blank wall…or the wall with the fewest distractions on it. Having a clock appear above a person’s head does not help the photograph, or a part wall part open doorway.
How can you avoid the distractions? First, think about the background when you are getting ready to take the photograph. If it is a photograph of people, move them around to avoid the cluttered background. Second, move in closer to the subject so that the background will go out focus for you The closer to the subject you are, the more out of focus your background becomes.
If it is a landscape, look out for telephone and electric wires. They are everywhere. Keep moving around the subject to try and avoid them. Of course you could take them out with Photoshop, I guess, but it would be better to not have them in at all. Because I use film, I cannot eliminate wires…so I try to work around them the best way I can. And there have been times I have passed on a good scene because of the wires. Sometimes I can make them become an effective part of the scene.
There are some beautiful country churches around, but most of the time you are going to end up with electric wires nearby.
Make yourself aware of the background before you click your shutter..not afterwards. Make your background work for you!