Using Focal Points in Photography

Author: Darren Rowse. Link to original: http://digital-photography-school.com/using-focal-points-in-photography (English).
Tags: фотография Submitted by Ready 02.02.2009. Public material.

Translations of this material:

into Russian: Использование главного фокуса в фотографии. Translated in draft, editing and proof-reading required.
Submitted for translation by Ready 02.02.2009

Text

Next time you take your digital camera out and line it up for a shot pause before you press the shutter button and ask yourself:

“What is the Focal Point in this Picture?”

Some other ways to ask the same question might include - What is the central point of interest? What will draw the eye of the viewers of this picture? What in this image will make it stand out from others? What is my subject?

The reason a focal point is important is that when you look at an image your eye will generally need a ‘resting place’ or something of interest to really hold it. Without it you’ll find people will simply glance at your shots and then move on to the next one.

Once you’ve identified a point of interest or focal point you then should ask yourself how you can enhance it.

6 Techniques to Enhance the Focal Point in an Image

A focal point can be virtually anything ranging from a person, to a building, to a mountain, to a flower etc. Obviously the more interesting the focal point the better - but there are other things you can do to enhance it’s power including:

Position - Place it in a prominent position - you might want to start with the rule of thirds for some ideas.

Focus - Learn to use Depth of Field to blur out other aspects in front or behind your focal point.

Blur - If you really want to get tricky you might want to play with slower shutter speeds if your main subject is still and things around it are moving.

Size - making your focal point large is not the only way to make it prominent - but it definitely can help.

Color - using contrasting colors can also be a way of setting your point of interest apart from it’s surroundings.

Shape - similarly contrasting shapes and textures can make a subject stand out - especially patterns that are repeated around a subject.

Keep in mind that a combination of above elements can work well together.

Lastly - don’t confuse the viewer with too many competing focal points which might overwhelm the main focal point. Secondary points of interest can be helpful to lead the eye but too many strong ones will just clutter and confuse.