Nov 24 2009

Photography Focal Points

Published by at 9:58 pm under General

In common language, the word “focus” usually means the concentration of attention on something. In the world of visual arts, the focal point is the place on the canvas on which the observers’ eyes will focus. Therefore, focal points are important elements of any photograph.

Any photograph lacking a focal point will not attract except a few quick glances. The reason is that the eyes usually look for something interesting and unique to grab their attention. Whether it is a flower, a barrel, or a human, any interesting object will do.

There are many ways to enhance a focal point and all are related to the conventional rules of photography. Next time you are taking a photograph, think where the focal point should be. According to the Rule of Thirds, it is better to be placed at one of the four intersection points. Another possibility is to place it at the convergence point of leading lines which naturally grab attention into the photograph. In this case the Rule of Thirds can be neglected for a more symmetric composition.

In addition to the position, contrasting your object with a background of textures or patterns will make it stand out too. The sudden break of a plain background with an interesting object is very attracting to the eyes. A strong colorful contrast can only improve the effect further. The brightness of the color or the size of the object are sometimes used as well to bring attention to the desired focal point.

If the surroundings are distracting, maybe you should make them less detailed to bring out your object. It is a sort of distinction between the out of focus environment and the in focus object. With the whole picture blurred out except for a detailed object, it will naturally grab the attention of the observer. Thus, selective focusing becomes very handy tool to underscore your focal point. The strength of this effect is determined by how shallow or deep the DOF is. A similar effect can be the result of motion blur. A still object will stand out in a photograph with many moving objects when utilizing a slow shutter speed.

Although you may contain more than one focal point in your composition, too many will just render your photograph confusing. So next time while composing your photo, let your eyes lead you.  

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