When you take out your digital camera out and line it up for a shot, before you press the shutter button do you ask yourself?

“What is the Focal Point in this Picture?”

OR

What is the central point of interest?  What will draw the eye of the viewers of this picture?  What is my subject?

A focal point is important in an image as your eye will generally need a ‘resting place’ or something of interest to hold the viewers attention. Without it you’ll find people will simply glance at your shots and then move on to the next one.

Once you’ve identified a point of interest or focal point you then should ask yourself how you can make it better.

What techniques can I use in this image to make it stand out from others?

A focal point can be virtually anything ranging from a person, to a building, to a mountain, to a flower etc. Obviously the more interesting the focal point the better – but there are other things you can do to enhance it’s power including:

  • focus_pointPosition – Place it in a prominent position – you might want to start with the rule of thirds for some ideas.
  • Focus – Learn to use Depth of Field to blur out other aspects in front or behind your focal point.
  • Blur – If you really want to get tricky you might want to play with slower shutter speeds if your main subject is still and things around it are moving.
  • Size – making your focal point large is not the only way to make it prominent – but it definitely can help.
  • Color – using contrasting colors can also be a way of setting your point of interest apart from it’s surroundings.
  • Shape – similarly contrasting shapes and textures can make a subject stand out – especially patterns that are repeated around a subject.

A combination of the above elements can work well together too but don’t over do it. Too many competing focal points which might overwhelm the main focal point leaving the viewer confused.

Secondary points of interest can be helpful to lead the eye but too many strong ones will just clutter and add to the confusion.

ISO Explained