It’s finally summer again, there are leaves on the trees, and it’s not too cold outside! So I’ve been shooting lots of flowers and blossom. And this year I’ve found myself drawn to a technique that I haven’t used for a while: foreground blur.
To make it work you need quite a wide-aperture lens (most of these pictures were taken with my lens wide open, wider than f/2) and it can take a few tries to get the right composition and focus, so that you end up with the main subject of the image totally sharp, combined with something blurry in the foreground.
But I love the way it looks when it all comes together. As well as adding a dreamy mood to the image, it’s a novel way to frame almost any subject, provided there’s a handy plant for you to stand behind.
In some cases I have to climb into a hedge or squeeze behind a tree to get the effect I want, which is part of the fun.
And lately I’ve been trying to do foreground blur without relying on plants, but instead finding something else to put in the foreground. It’s a challenge!
So I’m always looking for an opportunity to do foreground blur. Now that my eye is tuned into it, I’ve noticed that it’s particularly popular in travel photography — look out for it next time you open Conde Nast Traveler, for example.
And once you get obsessed with foreground blur, you’ll start seeing it everywhere — in print and in the real world.
It’s one of those subtle examples of how being a photographer changes the way you look at reality.