A focal point is the part of an image that draws the eye of a viewer to the most important part of the image or the area that you want to highlight. How you do this will make or break the final image. If you don’t know how to create this point then you will not achieve much in your photography.
THE IMPORTANCE OF A FOCAL POINT:
Article written by Wayne Turner for PictureCorrect:
The professionals have all worked this one out and if you are attempting to create similar images then learn this point well. It frustrates the eye of a viewer if there is no focal point, as the eye is not drawn to any one particular part of the photo. The focal point only occupies a small part of the scene but will make or break the whole image. The simplest form of this is an isolated object seen from a distance on a plain background.
So how is this achieved successfully? Let’s take a look at a few pointers:
1- THE RULE OF THIRDS:
Fundamental to photography this rule needs to be learnt well and executed to perfection. If you know where to place your focal point then you will shoot great images every time. A focal point needs to be off centred and never in the middle of an image. The rule of thirds places it at a point that is very pleasing to the eye as discovered by the ancient Greeks. This golden rule will bring you success every time. Imagine a noughts and crosses or tic-tac-toe grid. Two lines across the image and two lines down the image—vertically and horizontally placed. Equally spaced, they cut the image up into thirds. Where these lines intersect are your focal points. The horizontal lines are where you place your horizons. The human eye loves to view subjects placed at these intersections. Take a magazine or travel book and take a look at how many times this rule is used effectively and see how your eye is drawn to them.
2- SELECTIVE FOCUS:
By underexposing parts of the image (i.e. making them darker), the areas that are light will stand out. If you are able to able to use this effectively the light parts will stand out as focal points and whatever you place here will become the point of focus in the photo. This really works well if you have a subject that is lighter than the underexposed, darker areas. Key to the process is knowing what the final image will look like in mind’s eye.
6- TWO FOCAL POINTS:
Sometimes you will have two focal points and there will be competition, but, you can offset this by using size. One of the focal points must be considerably larger which will draw the eye but immediately your focus will move to the smaller focal point. If they are the same size the viewer’s eyes will dart between them. So be very careful when using a double focal point.
A focal point is essential to any great image and you need to be able to create this in every image. An image lacking this will appear flat and without impact. As you learn digital photography it will become easier and easier to place it in the right position. Happy shooting!
About the Author:
Wayne Turner has been teaching photography for 25 years and has written three books on photography. He has produced 21 Steps to Perfect Photos; a program of learner-based training using outcomes based education.
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