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!

Communication

It has been said a “Picture worth a thousand words.” how can I get my photos to be that chatty? Communicating should be intentional, direct, tactful, transparent, considerate and kind. How is this possible in photography? Well, let us take a look at some examples.

I was recently watching a movie based on a historic event and during the movie I was amazed to see the detail and clarity with which the director communicated the points of history as the events occurred. It drew me in and kept showing one key issue, leaving the others minor. To draw out a point in the same way it is important to ask questions and answer them with observable facts.

Here is an example of what I mean by “communication”: How does a film director communicate the difference between the camera’s view and a cast member’s point of view? This is not a question I want to answer for you, but more of a question for you to ponder, to answer and add to your skill set. I have rolled this question around in my mind for some time and I have concluded that I can find new methods to experiment with as I see other techniques used.

How can I take these principles and add them to my still photography? After the shot type is selected, planning the scene is important. Is the person looking through the camera’s field of view watching someone through a window? Is this person hiding from someone? Could there be a hand, arm or feet seen in the shot from whose perspective the camera captures the scene?

This is a wise open realm to be explored. Not every attempt has to be perfect and you can certainly learn from your own photographs as well as you can from another’s, so enjoy and get some experience!