Monday, April 25, 2016

Use Out-of-Focus Foreground Objects To Give Your Photos Depth

Fire Wok - Barstow, California
Note the out-of-focus object at the bottom-right corner of the frame.
Want to know a quick way to give your photographs depth? It's easy, really. Use out-of-focus foreground objects!

This simple technique adds not only depth, but perspective and sometimes even interest, atmosphere and feeling. It brings the viewer right in while also maintaining a distance, as if the viewer is peeking in on the scene.

To do this you have to place a foreground object in the frame close to the lens. The closer it is to the lens the more blurry it will be. Also, the larger the aperture the smaller the depth-of-field and the more blurry the object will be.

Because the foreground object is blurry it stands less of a chance of being a distraction to the main point of the image. The viewer will look past it to what's in sharp focus.

If the foreground object is the highest point of contrast in the frame, the viewer will take notice. There are times when it could create a distraction. You have to be careful and thoughtful with how you do this.

I wouldn't use this technique all of the time. It's not meant for every exposure. But sometimes it can help set an image apart, giving it depth and sometimes some other benefits. It's a simple compositional technique that can provide big results.
Tipped Wheel Chair - Lancaster, California
The foreground object, a Toyota car, helps to timestamp this vintage-looking image, so I didn't want it to be too blurry--only blurry enough that you'd look past it at first, and return to it later.
Orange Engines - Tehachapi, California
The blurred foreground bushes block a less interesting part of the image, but also help to prevent the eyes from leaving the frame from the curved rail lines. 
Summer Country Feeling - Stallion Springs, California
The foreground grass adds much needed interest to an image that's about clouds; however, if the grass were in sharp focus, the image would no longer be about clouds.
Two Brothers - Perris, California
The out-of-focus brother gives this image depth, but also tells the viewer which one they need to look at to understand the meaning of the photograph.
Morning Coffee - Tehachapi, California
This is a reflection captured in a picture frame on the wall, and the blurry foreground is the picture.

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