Project 26 – Selective focus

This project involves using an out of focus foreground to enhance an image, sounds simple enough but I have produced images on a few separate occasions to fit this project and have found that whilst its easy enough to have an out of focus foreground it often creates a sense of unease that doesn’t necessarily enhance the image.

The first one I took was on a recent visit to Blackpool for the portfolio, I thought the brightly coloured coat of this lady would make a good focal point for the image. I then waited for a vehicle to pass to create my out of focus foreground:

The van serves to emphasize the distance and voyeuristic feel but other than that I don’t feel that it adds anything to th image.

Next (and with their permission) a couple of images of friends and fellow students Fiona and Jeff, here I used an out of focus foreground to explain the surroundings (a coffee shop):


Once again I feel that the out of focus foreground creates a strong feeling of discomfort, it reminds me of one of those tv programs filmed with a hidden camera !

And yet another one where the foreground makes the image feel intrusive :


This week I finally managed to get a shot where the out of focus foreground enhances the image without making it feel uncomfortable, I had been asked to photograph the opening of a newly refurbished studio at the local community radio station and I managed to get this candid image of the mayor:


In this instance I feel the foreground helps to add context to the surroundings without adding the feeling of discomfort that exists in the other images. I think this is partly due to the fact that I am closer and maybe also because I am on the same level.

So, in conclusion, it’s very easy to create an out of focus foreground but it can often add tension to the image, obviously this could well be the intention but if not its a technique that needs to be used carefully.


About Janet Broughton

Award winning lifestyle photographer working with horse owners, families and small business owners.
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2 Responses to Project 26 – Selective focus

  1. Dave says:

    Interesting points raised here Janet and ones I’d not considered. I guess that most of us tend to intuitively throw backgrounds out of focus and I’d not thought of using this approach but your post does make interesting reading.

  2. CliveW says:

    Excellent work Janet.

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