Creative foregrounds

image of a sunset

Canon lenses are engineered for optimum performance, but there may be occasions where you want to try a more distorted view. By placing objects close to the front of the lens, you can easily achieve a bold new look. Here are three quick and simple techniques to try out.

Foreground blur

PCA - Creative Foregound

Positioning the lens very close to an object and selectively focusing on a subject beyond it allows you to frame your shot with an exaggerated foreground blur.

Try getting low to the ground to shoot through grass or flowers, or, as in this example, hold a string of LED lights a short distance from the front element of the lens. Choose a longer lens or zoom in for this technique, as it will appear to compress the scene and bring the foreground blur and the sharp subject closer together in your picture. Set a large aperture to produce larger, more rounded out-of-focus highlights.

Prism photos

PCA - Creative Foreground


Original image of a landscape without using prism.
Image of a landscape using prism for creative effect.

Original scene

With prism

Original image of a sunset behind a tree without using prism.
Image of a sunset behind a tree using prism for creative effect.

Original scene

With prism

This simple technique involves little more than holding a glass prism in front of the lens and changing its angle and position until you find an effect you like. These effects range from reflections to rainbows, curves to creative distortions; it all depends where you hold the prism in front of the lens and how you twist and rotate it.

Prisms are relatively cheap to buy online – look for one that’s around 15cm long, as this should allow you to hold it without your fingers appearing in the shot. Focus on the subject of the picture before you bring the prism into view, and set a large aperture to let plenty of light into the lens. Don’t let the prism touch the front of the lens – you may find it easier to fit the camera to a tripod so that you have more control over how the prism is positioned.

DIY filters

Original image of a blossom tree branch.
Lo-fi feel image of a blossom tree branch by using DIY filter.

Original scene

With plastic film

An easy way to give your pictures a ‘lo-fi’ feel is to create your own ‘filters’. Coloured sweet wrappers can give a picture an aged feel, while plastic food wrap held close to the front element will give you a soft-focus look.

It’s particularly effective if you’re using a focal length of at least 50mm and are focused on a subject that’s not too close to the lens. Fit a lens hood, stretch the film across it and tear a hole in the centre so that you have one clear, sharp area framed by the blurred, ragged edge of the film. Alternatively, simply hold the film to one side of the picture. Experiment with your shooting angle, as the way the light falls on the film will change the look and feel of your pictures.

Related products

Related articles