DO YOU KNOW WHERE YOU HAVE TO FOCUS WHEN TAKING A PHOTO?

Surely it is not the first time you hear about the importance of focus when composing an image. How it highlights elements above the rest, the ability of the focus to highlight the center of interest of the compositions.

Surely you also hear the term opening, since in this blog we always try to become a daring photographer and dare to shoot in manual mode, so you can control all the variables of the shot yourself.

And surely also, if you have dared at some time with the semi-manual or manual modes of the camera , it sounds to you that there is a relationship between the aperture and the focus. In case you have a little forgotten, before we start, we will refresh the basics.

DIAPHRAGM OPENING

Sounds fatal and smells like something impossible to understand, but the truth is that the diaphragm opening is simply the opening through which your goal lets light in. The larger this hole, the more light will enter through the lens, and the more closed it is, the less light will enter, just as the more you open a tap the more water comes out, and the more you close it, the less. We better see it in this video:

That is the first concept to be clear about the opening, when more or less light comes in and the possibilities offered to play with this knowledge. For example, in a scene where you lack enough light, the ideal is to help the diaphragm to let in as much light as possible through it. This is done by opening the diaphragm (low f values). On the contrary, if you have plenty of light, it is logical that you close the diaphragm to prevent too much light from entering through it (high f values).

But it not only controls the entry of light that passes through the lens, but also controls what we know as depth of field or area focused on the image, that is, controls the focus. That is why it is important that you be clear that to control the focus you must know how to use the aperture. Once this brief review is done, let’s look at another of the most important compositional decisions: Where to put the focus.

WHERE DO I PUT THE FOCUS?

Because so important is the decision of how much area of image-focused area we want, as where we want it because, as we already advanced at the beginning of this article, the focus is used to highlight and reinforce the centers of interest in the image. Now, it is not always easy to know what to focus on and how much, let’s look at a few more or less typical situations in which a correct use of the focus will help you improve your photographs.

INDIVIDUAL PORTRAIT

Surely if you follow this blog, you’ve already heard our insistence when it comes to focusing the eyes of the portrayed well. In the gaze is the strength of each one of us, it is the most expressive part, the one we instinctively look for when we analyze a portrait , in which we stop most when we look at it. That is why, unless you look for another sense, unless you want to highlight another part of the scene for some specific reason, it is best to focus your eyes well. If you also play with a low depth of field, remember to focus the eye that is closest to your target.

GROUP PORTRAIT

To portray groups of people and make sure they are all perfectly focused, you must close the diaphragm (high f values). Ideally, you should choose a reference person for example in the first row, the center one, and the approaches after adjusting the aperture to a high f value (for example f11).

SELF PORTRAIT

Since the artist behind the camera stands for once in front of her, it is difficult to work with small depths of field, because in the self-portrait we lack the most important part of the photographic equipment, you. So it is best to work with half-diaphragm openings to ensure that the face will be well focused, because although it is a somewhat unusual portrait, for compositional purposes follow the same “rules” as a “normal” portrait.

You can help yourself with some focus tricks, dolls, floor marks, mirrors, etc. to help you adjust the focus of the scene. The most advisable thing is that you approach from a tripod and manually, and then you place yourself in the exact place that you had marked.

LANDSCAPE

In landscape, what we usually look for is the greater sharpness and area focused on the image. For this, we not only use small diaphragm openings (high f values) but also what we know as hyperfocal distance . Or what is the same; the place where we place the focus to achieve the greatest amount of sharp area and focused on the image. To calculate it, you depend on several factors, including the distance at which we place the focus, the focal length of our optics, and so on. Check out this article that we dedicate in the blog to clarify the concepts and learn how to use it

MACRO PHOTOGRAPHY

In macro photography it is especially important to decide where to place the focus, since the depth of field is very, very small. If you are photographing the face of an insect, the focus should be on the eyes, just as if it were a portrait. Whatever you are portraying, think that the focus will indicate that part of your protagonist as if it were an arrow.

DOCUMENTARY PHOTOGRAPHY

Nor is there a single norm regarding this type of photography, but in general, it seeks to link the protagonist with the environment, so we usually play with wide depths of field so that the two have similar prominence. The focus is thus broad, although we always place it in the center of interest that, as a rule, are usually the protagonists of our history.

SWEEPS

You will need to get down to work with the manual or with speed priority. Sweeps are a tool to add movement and interest in your scenes that can give you great images. To get a good sweep, you must work with slow speeds and to compensate for it, you usually need a small opening (high f). Once you have the settings, you must focus on the subject in motion and follow the path of the movement with your objective. Don’t panic, it’s just a summary, here is a detailed article on how to get a perfect sweep step by step.

THE SUN AND THE MOON

If you are addicted to automatic mode, in this case you will also have to forget about it. If you want to focus on this pair of companions who watch us from the sky, you will have to focus on manual and infinity, and with a wide depth of field.

Although there are many possible scenarios, what you should take into account mainly is that the focus marks your center of interest and allows you to highlight it above the rest. That is why it is so important to know how to focus on each occasion. And this, as always, is learned through practice, seasoned with some intuition and artistic daring

I hope you found this article useful. If so, share it with someone else who may be interested. Thank you and see you soon


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