How to Shoot Through a Wire Fence
by Darren Rowse

Stuck behind a wire fence when trying to shoot an interesting subject can be a pain. It’s a challenge most often faced at the zoo but you also come across it when shooting at some sporting events (car racing for example) or in other random circumstances (for example I recently was photographing some kids on a trampoline which had a mesh around it).

Tiger
Image by Doug Brown

So how do you minimise the impact of the fence in your shots? Here’s a few quick tips:

  1. Switch to Manual Focusing – one challenge you may face shooting through any kind of fence is that your camera may not know what to focus on – the fence or the object behind it. Switch to manual focus mode and you’ll be in complete control of what is in and out of focus.
  2. Get close the the Fence – ideally your best bet is to try to make the fence so out of focus that it can be barely seen in your shot. To do this one strategy is to get up very close to the fence – so close your lens has no chance of focusing on it. It may not be possible to be right up against a fence (shooting a lion at the zoom may mean you have other barriers in place for your own safety) but the closer the better.
  3. Use a Large Aperture – choose a large aperture (making the number of your aperture as small as possible) will help to narrow the depth of focus and will hopefully through the lens even further out of focus.
  4. Wait Until your Subject is away from the fence – if your subject is moving around behind the fence – wait until they are a little further back from the fence to take the shot. The closer they are to the fence the more the fence will be in focus.
  5. Position Your Lens to Shoot Through Larger Gaps – This one isn’t rocket science – but if the fence has largish openings you’ll do better to position these gaps in the middle of your frame.
  6. Avoid Reflections – if shooting through a part of a fence where there are reflections from the sun or other lights coming off the fence you’ll find the fence will become even more noticeable. As a result try to find a part of the fence that is shaded – or get someone to stand in a way that casts a shadow on the fence.
  7. Incorporate the fence into your composition – it may be that the fence can become an important part of your composition – so consider breaking all the above rules to try that out!

Fence
Image by J. Paxon Reyes

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