Focus on the Subject

What's the focus of the photograph?

Without a central theme or subject, a photograph can lack cohesion. Photographers have many ways they can bring the viewer into an image, to highlight the thing or things the photographer wants them to notice. As Patti mentioned in her post, one way is with leading lines. None of the image below use leading lines. Another way is with selective focus, using depth of field to narrow the focus, blur the background and to bring the viewer to the subject. But what if the out of focus element is the focus of the image? What if you use a 35mm film camera manual focus lens and deliberately put effort into creating out of focus images? What is the subject of the image then?

Route 1 in the rain | Sunday 20 October, 2019 | FujiFilm X-T2 | Asahi Optical Co. SMC Takumar 55mm f/2

Sometimes, you can bring attention to the subjects of an image by removing anything from the frame that detracts or does not add to the story. The mother is playing in the leaves with her daughters on a sunny fall day in October. They were having so much fun. I cropped in from the sides of the original images to narrow the focus of the viewer.

Playing in the leaves | Princeton University | Saturday 26 October, 2019 | FujiFilm X-T2 | XF16-55mmF2.8 R LM WR

The woman stepped over a short barricade to sit in the leaves under a line of trees. She held up a singular leaf under her chin while her friend took her photograph. They were oblivious to my camera. I cropped in from the top and bottom.

Getting the Instagram shot | Princeton University | Saturday 26 October, 2019 | FujiFilm X-T2 | XF16-55mmF2.8 R LM WR

I've learned that some photographers shoot in black and white because it removes the distractions of colour. I learned much of my black and white photograph from renowned Argentinian photographer, educator and documentary filmmaker Ossian Lindholm. Ossian has led groups of photographers and naturalists on photographic journeys throughout his native Argentina. Ossian is a teacher who encourages his students to convey what they see before, even picking up the camera.

Last fall, in Princeton, Ossian taught a course in Black & White Photography and Creative use of Light in Landscape Photography. Part of his course included a field trip around the Princeton University campus where these images were capture. While walking around, I stumbled upon an engagement shoot. This photographer was furious, trying to chase the light as is travelled between the trees. His subjects became my subjects. I respectfully stayed out of his way.

Saturday 26 October, 2019 | FujiFilm X-T2 | XF16-55mmF2.8 R LM WR

Patti wrote in her that using contrast & focusing on the eyes was another way to bring focus to a subject. In this photograph, the walls of the courtyard building have created a reverse software box, pushing strong shadows to box in the subjects. A strong beam of light breaks the shadow to reveal the loving couple at the centre.

"I love you", she whispered. | Saturday 26 October, 2019 | FujiFilm X-T2 | XF16-55mmF2.8 R LM WR

The contrast between the darker background and the front light on the white of the flowers helps to focus the eye viewer on the details in the flowers. The contrast in effect frames the subject with darkness.

Saturday 26 October, 2019 | FujiFilm X-T2 | XF16-55mmF2.8 R LM WR

The seemingly endless archways to be found on the Princeton University campus, provide frames for the street portraits of campus walkers. I even got a shot of Ossian Lindholm framed in one of the arches.

Framed | Saturday 26 October, 2019 | FujiFilm X-T2 | XF16-55mmF2.8 R LM WR
Photographer, Ossian Lindholm | Saturday 26 October, 2019 | FujiFilm X-T2 | XF16-55mmF2.8 R LM WR

Submitted for the 100DaysToOffload project and Lens-Artist Photo Challenge.

Author:Khürt Williams

A human who works in information security and enjoys photography, Formula 1 and craft ale.

6 thoughts on “Focus on the Subject”

    1. Thank you, John. This was last year shortly after my first eye surgery. My wife was driving me to a followup with another doctor. I had double vision but could see properly just two feet from my face.

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