Terms – Focus

Focusing is an important part of clear sight. In fact focus can be one of the first overt statements in a photographer’s arsenal for effective communication.

Some shots may have a “softer focus” for a glamour affect, but these are specialty shots which we will discuss in another post for the sake of avoiding too many technicalities.

A viewer may be misled if the photographer’s intended subject if a picture is taken out of focus. At-least very confused about what the true subject is. Focus is important.

What is focus and how is it achieved?

20130330-234916.jpgIf you will notice the pansy looks nice enough until you get closer in to see that the pansy stamens are not as detailed as the lace on the table top. The focus placement should draw your eye to the lace over the molded pansy. However, this would not have been my chosen point of focus. Take my next illustration for an example.

The next image of the molded pansy clearly portrays the detail I want to communicate. Looking closely at the pansy it is satisfying to see it in enough detail so to not feel like

20130330-234927.jpg

you should blink to make it clearer. This is the difference between being “in focus” or being “out of focus”.

Achieving a proper focus can be achieved by taking notice where your camera thinks you want it to focus. Digital SLR cameras will flash one or more zones that it detects should be in focus as you look at the scene through the view finder. Consumer model or “point and shoot” cameras will flash boxes around these zones and finally smart phone cameras usually respond to tap point focusing.

I have found that some “point and shoot” cameras will focus better when closer to your subject. To ensure a certain part of your subject is in focus (such as the eye) you might also have to square them in the frame, focus (press the shutter release button half-way down), adjust your frame to your desired place and release the shutter.

Do not feel limited by your equipment, but use it to your advantage for excellence!

History Records

Recording history via photography is something that may seem as a profession for the unskilled, however consider taking the challenge of recording the events of your family alone. The difference between recording the events for a city records and those of which concern a family are more quickly understood in an experience to which we can relate. A family’s social calendar maybe busier than a city’s but things occur on a greater scale in a 24 hour period within the city limits than a family.

Take the challenge of recording the events your family encounters through photography. It is may not be as easy as anticipated. Events may involve one person or multiple. Please also take notice of everyone’s right to privacy. I have heard stories of families taking snapshots of other at times that are extremely personal. The purpose of this challenge is not black-mail gathering but learning to discern between photo emphasis.

Every family I know has pictures of the firsts in the lives of their children or wish they did. I wish that I had more photos that surround my memories of the last few months I had with my grandparents. You see, there are many levels in photographing history than appears on the surface.

We have covered some basics to photographic records and I will take some time to list these levels (perhaps not in the best order).

  • Physical event and motion
  • Elements included and worn during the event
  • Emotions, communication and facial expression
  • Overall event (purpose and reason for gathering)
  • Accomplishments
  • Experiences (from a personal perspective)

There really are a lot of things to fill your time with family events. Now consider the skill required to put your talent in such a time crunch on a scale of 18,000 families. I think we just discovered a fascinating career!

Simplicity – Made Complicated…

I am just kidding about simplicity being made complicated.

My goal as a photographer is to capture images that make a clear statement. My integrity, character, skill, morality and intent respectively should not/cannot be with-held or disguised. This is not a case for a lack of discretion but rather the purpose of clarifying our visual communication.

Visual communication is vital to many areas of life, like business, self-preservation and interaction (both personal and professional). Communication by hand signs is called Sign-language. Sign-language combines motions or gestures that give intuitive and definitive meaning as well as a visual alphabet. These signs are simple and distinct from any other sign making its meaning clear.

This is purpose we want to have in photography, so several things should be brought to its least complicated form to communicate well.

Glass trinket box

First, what is my object or subject? What about my object or subject am I communicating? What draws out the subject? What clarifies my point of communication? What distracts from my subject? What obscures my point of communication? These questions seem tedious and a waste of time, however I can assure you that as soon as these questions become sub-conscious and your actions to correcting these issues are instinctive your image quality will rise with all haste.

The picture above of a glass trinket container is an example of keeping the setting simple. This image communicates the object is the glass container and that the design is important because of the glass clarity.  The surrounding set-up is designed to support the showcasing of the glass container and its design. The lighting of the object is important or there would be no exposure to see the container or its design.

A simple surrounding, focus on the object, light the object well and if necessary add intriguing lines. Enjoy!

Portraits – Versus ? Part 2

Stock Photography is a field of scope more broad than portraiture because it does not cause an emotional attachment alone.

Stock (at-least in my opinion) includes styles Commercial, Product, Scenic, Wildlife, Botany, Oceanic, Astronomic, Architectural and Historical opportunities giving objects to be the primary focus in the photo.

Portraiture ought to emphasize the person over their surroundings, even if the photograph is not designed to prominently showcase the subject.

The difference between Stock and Portraiture is in the photograph’s use. For instance, a company selling a consumable product will use a photograph of the product for visual communication is a use of stock but meant to sell a different product than the photograph.

The Stock Photography industry is designed to sell photographs, rather than photographs being used to sell other products.

It is important to consider the purpose of the photograph whether displaying it in home or sale. Just as a photographer is critiqued for how they captured the subject and displayed the photo’s purpose, so an image out-of-place or incompatible with its surroundings is important to consider when placed.

If a portrait is placed in a photo frame intended to be used as a stock photograph but is an obvious portrait of the subject, it looks out-of-place as it sits on the store shelf. There are aesthetic changes that can be made to the portrait to show the commercial use, but without these changes it would seem that someone had left a framed photo at the store as they shopped for a new picture frame.

The same principle applies to stock photography. If a person or an object is in the photograph distracting from the photographic statement, it is better to change perspectives or wait until the person leaves the frame and not “shoot around them”.

One of the best investments in a shot is time. Do not be afraid to invest!

Location, Location, Location!

We photographers are able to express ourselves in ways that not many people do. This is not a bad thing, but rather means that we complete a part of communication by still images which otherwise would be non-existent or at the very least different.

Since we find pleasure in communicating through imagery, we desire to learn, grow and become better communicators through our images. Here is something to consider as we learn and grow.

Texture:

I chose my locations mostly by the textures they contain. Personally, I find that too many textures or a texture out of place can throw off the focus of a picture. Thus, when I choose a location (let’s say a train station, since it has a great many textures) I want the person looking at the photo to feel the refreshing cool breeze as they wait on the platform and the rumble of the train as it comes and goes.

Now that I know what I can work on (texture) and how to capture it’s story in a still image, I can begin bring texture into my work as an added element on other photo shoots!

Stay tuned for Friday’s post on using texture as an added photo element.