How to Use Selective Focus and Framing to Improve Your Photos

It’s been said that a good photographer can take a creative picture in any setting. Aside from thinking like an artist, the trick is to find the right angle and to frame carefully. In this video, photographer and author Bryan Peterson explains how to use selective focusing and framing to take beautiful photos even in cluttered surroundings:

As Peterson demonstrates, much of an artistic shot depends on the photographer’s visualization. He imagines the shot well before he presses the shutter button.

Peterson, stopped along the side of a road in Holland, paired a Nikon D800E with a Nikkor 24-85mm lens and set out to create something beautiful from a mundane scene that most photographers would pass by without much thought.


Peterson’s shooting location was fairly mundane.

Change Your Perspective

To get a low angle, Peterson had to lie down on the ground to capture the shot. This angle helped him to eliminate the distracting background, which was a series of houses right in the middle of the frame.

Frame Your Subject

Since Peterson’s main focus was the lone tree, he had to find a way to bring the viewer’s attention to it. By getting close to the flowers and an aperture of f/5.6, he could blur their details, creating a colorful frame for the tree and adding a sense of depth to the image.


Framing and focus hid the undesirable features in the scene.

The result of Peterson’s planning is a creative photo that appears to have been taken in a meadow of flowers—you’d never know he was alongside a busy road!

Peterson has a small piece of advice for photographers:

“You are racing off to the tulips, great idea! But, in your haste to get there, don’t overlook some of the least and not so obvious photographic opportunities as well.”

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