In bird photography what is in the background can enhance or distract the eye from the main subject. In these two images the subject is the same, they are both Ring-billed Gulls, both have other out of focus birds or reflections in the background and both are in flight but one to my eye is appealing and the other… not so much.
In the image above the Ring-billed Gull flying over the Gulf of Mexico has other out of focus gulls in the background but to my eye they don’t distract from the main subject because they are so out of focus that they nearly blend into the sky but you can still tell they are birds, they add depth and they also break up what otherwise is a plain sky.
This Ring-billed Gull image was taken last month at Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge as the gull came in for a landing shows the gull in a nice pose with great eye contact and lovely details but the out of focus reflection of an American White Pelican’s bill at the upper right hand corner distracts my eye from the main subject because I spend time trying to figure out what is showing on the water over the the gulls left wing. I was disappointed even when I took this image because I knew the reflection was going to ruin it.
In my opinion the out of focus birds in the background of the top image enhance it while the out of focus pelican bill reflection in the bottom image is distracting.
Life is good.