The early Greeks first realised that every image needs a focal point. Okay, they didn’t have cameras but they did have art. That is still true today and will continue to be true in the future. How and where you place this is vitally important for a good photo.

When you page through magazines or photo nft’s books and see a photo that you like you are immediately drawn to something in that image. A focal point. Why? Because the photographer has chosen to place the subject in a place that will immediately catch the eye and make the image more striking or pleasant to the viewer.

A focal point is not necessarily a subject, it could be a landscape or similar scene with an object that becomes the focal point. But in order to capture the eye it needs a place where the eye will focus. Here are some ways to do it.

1. The Rule of Thirds

The rule of what? Again the Greeks are responsible. They discovered the Golden Mean which is similar and the rule of thirds seems to have its origins there. By dividing your image equally into thirds horizontally and thirds vertically you end up with a grid like a noughts and crosses or tic tac toe grid. Where these lines cross are intersecting points, four of them. It’s on these points you would place your subject or focal point. It is pleasing to the eye and the eye is naturally drawn to these areas. Google rule of thirds for more information. Without a focal point at one these intersections, like a tree or house on a landscape, it would be bland and pointless.

2. Selective Focusing

When you look at an image you’ll immediately notice the areas in sharp focus and those that are not. By focusing on a particular area of an image using a shallow depth of field or focus and a large aperture, it creates a focal point as it is the only part in focus. A telephoto lens as opposed to a wide angle lens has less depth of field thereby creating more of this effect.

3. Using Exposure

By focusing on an area of a scene that is much brighter and reducing your exposure time, you effectively darken the rest of the image thereby creating a focal point at this area of brightness. If you are able to place a subject there, a very effective image is created.

4. Using Light

Those images where a bean of light streams out of the heavens and creates a focal point on a tree or house are great examples. Indoor light can also be used where there is a relatively dark interior and a small window which allows a shaft of light into the room. By placing a subject in this area or waiting till a subject is illuminated by the shaft makes a stunning image. The eye is drawn to the light and not the dark area.

5. The Eyes Have It

This is a great example of an effective way of creating a focal point in an image. Imagine a mother looking down at her new baby. Her eyes in sharp focus looking down into the eyes of her child. The viewer’s eye is immediately directed to the focus of her attention, the baby or focal point. Their eyes follow the downward gaze of her eyes.

A focal point is essential to a great image. Knowing where and how to place it comes from practise and becomes easier and easier. The old adage says, practise makes perfect, so keep experimenting until you are getting it right most of the time.



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