Digital Photography Class

Focal Point Practical Techniques

Focal Point Practical Techniques

Focal Point part 3

In any discussion of focal point techniques there are no hard and fast rules, partly because determining the focal point of an image (or even a series of images) is a creative and highly personal choice, and varies widely between photographers. However there are certain techniques which can help you to create a strong focal point in a photo. Once you have a clear idea of what you want the focal point of your image to be, these techniques will aid you in successfully capturing your vision.

To start with we’ll look at a few rules of composition and exposure in photography.


This rule is fundamental to photography and needs to be learnt well and executed to perfection. If you know where to place your focal point then you will shoot great images every time. The famous Rule of Thirds was discovered by the ancient Greeks and states that the focal point is never in the middle of an image, but rather on one of the intersecting lines of the grid. Images composed with this golden rule are very pleasing to look at and will bring you success every time.

The Rule of Thirds is one the most important composition techniques.
The Rule of Thirds is one the most important composition techniques.

Why is the Rule of Thirds talked about so much? Quite simply: the human eye loves to view subjects placed at these intersections. Are you doubtful it could be this simple? I encourage you to investigate for yourself: browse through photos in a magazine or travel book and take a look at how often this rule is used effectively and notice how naturally your eye is drawn to the main subject by the way it is placed within the frame.


This is another relatively simple and yet incredibly effective way to focus viewer’s attention on a focal point, although the mechanics of how aperture and depth of field work can be confusing to grasp. But basically it’s very simple: your settings (e.g. f/2.8, f/4, f/5.6 and so on) change the size of your lens aperture from “wide open” to “stopped down” at f/32. For selective focus techniques you only need to be concerned with the lower apertures. If your lens goes to f/1.2, brilliant, but most lenses won’t open wider than f/4 or f/2.8. (The simple reason for this is that lenses with wider apertures are more expensive.) Depth of field is the area of focus in front of and behind your subject. With the aperture wide open at f/2.8 you will have very little in focus which makes this choice of aperture setting so effective with selective focusing. Everything which is not on the same focal plane as the subject will be out of focus and thereby excluded from the viewer’s attention. Additionally, the longer your lens, the less depth of field you will have and the more you will be able to selectively focus.  If this paragraph has you feeling confused,  I cover more about Depth of Field in Digital Camera Bootcamp as well as other CLASSES. Please consider joining us!

Creating a Focal point by using wide open Aperture and creating a shallow depth of field,
Creating a Focal point by using wide open Aperture and creating a shallow depth of field,


By underexposing parts of an image (i.e. making them darker) the areas which are light will naturally stand out. When you are able to use this technique effectively the light parts of the image will stand out and whatever you place there will quite naturally become the point of focus in an image. This really works well if you have a subject which is lighter than the underexposed, darker areas. The key to using this technique is in knowing how to change the metering mode in your camera and using the proper metering mode (i.e. Spot or Centre weighted metering). Selecting the correct Exposure Metering Mode is part of our Upcoming Digital Camera Bootcamp. In Digital Camera Bootcamp workshop we cover all of these techniques in detail. The next dates for this eight week program is scheduled to begin on January 25th 2017. This small group workshop provides ample opportunities for one-on-one interaction with your instructor to help you learn faster and better.

Focal point
Differences in colour and contrast can be used to isolate the main subject

That is all for now. As always, we love to hear from you. Please feel free to contact us if you have any questions. Stay tuned as we continue to look at ways to successfully establish focal points for more dynamic imagery. Check our UPCOMING CLASSES for more interesting workshops.

Happy shooting!

Ted and the Omnilargess Team


Event Venue Date
Omnilargess Beginner Photography Bootcamp Backbone Office
  • June 1, 2024 9:00 am
Mill Lake Photography Workshop Mill Lake Park
  • July 6, 2024 8:30 am
Tofino to Ucluelet Tour Ucluelet
  • October 18, 2024 6:00 pm
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