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Focus On The Story

Lesson 21 from: Mastering the Art of Photography

Chris Weston

Focus On The Story

Lesson 21 from: Mastering the Art of Photography

Chris Weston

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Lesson Info

21. Focus On The Story

Chris poses the question, what is the point of focus? In answering that question, he reveals the power of focus and de-focus in defining the visual narrative and leading the viewer on a visual journey through the image space.
Next Lesson: The Passage Of Time


Class Trailer

Class Introduction - Three Steps To Creative Photography


Firing The Creative Mind - Part 1: The Camera Points Both Ways


Firing The Creative Mind - Part 2: Letting Go Of Judgement


Firing The Creative Mind - Part 3: Detaching From Outcomes


Practicing Mindfulness In Photography


Finding The Visual Narrative


Behind-the-scenes: Naples


Seeing Beneath The Surface Of Things


Lesson Info

Focus On The Story

What is the point of focus? No, really, What is the point of focus? It's not such a stupid question, because the answer reveals how in composition degrees of sharpness enable us to emphasis and de emphasis objects in the scene and lead the viewer on a visual journey or not, depending on your intent. We focus a camera so we can clearly identify the object of the photograph. If that object was blurred, would pay it no attention. And that's the point of focus. The human brain is designed to center its attention on objects that appear sharp and ignore objects that are blurred. The more blood they are, the more the brain ignores them now. This fact can be exploited in composition to hide or reveal objects within the image space, giving or removing emphasis depending on the narrative you've set. Now, an obvious example of this can be seen in portraiture. As a wildlife photographer, I often photographed portraits of the animals I encounter. In those portraits. The emphasis is on the facial ch...

aracter and expressions of the subject. I'm not at all interested in the habitat or what's going on around my subject now. One technique I can use to isolate the animal from its environment is to blur the background. For example, For this image, I set a wide aperture to reduce depth of field. So when you look at it subconsciously, your attention is drawn to the sharp areas in the frame and everything else you ignore. The same physiological response would occur with a human portrait. Attention is drawn to the subject who stands out against the blurred background. The important subject is emphasized. The unimportant background is de emphasised. Now let's change the narrative for another scene. I want to create a sense of place. I want to show the animal in the context of its environment. In this composition, then animal and background share equal weighting in the narrative. Neither is more nor less important than the other to visualize this equality by increasing depth of field. In this case, by using a smaller aperture, I can make both the subject and the background sharp, so the person looking at the image gives their attention to both the animal and its environment. Using the same visual tool, you can also determine the order in which you reveal objects in the frame the further an object is from the subject you are focusing on, the more blood it gets. In this case, attention will shift from the sharpest object to the next, sharpest to the most blurred in that order. Now let's see how that can alter the narrative. In this image, your attention hones in on the young lad in the foreground. He is the central character, and we wonder what his conversation might be about. Only later do we see the unhappy girl sitting in the background, but I can change the narrative here by changing the point of focus by focusing on the girl. The story changes. We now focus on her emotion rather than telephone conversation. Two almost identical pictures. But a slight shift in focus completely changes the story being told in photography, sharpness equals emphasis. Depth of field, which is controlled by lens. Aperture is a tool that allows you to define the role of the characters in the scene, human or otherwise, and how the plot of your story plays out in the mind of the viewer. It's an incredibly powerful tool in visual storytelling, and it can help transform a one dimensional account into a multidimensional thriller. While depth of field is influenced by focal length and camera subject distance, the principal tool for controlling depth of field is lens aperture, the smaller the aperture. That's the bigger numbers, the more depth of field you create. For example, F 16 gives you more depth of field than F 11, which gives you more depth of field than F eight and so on. You get maximum depth of field at the biggest numbers and the least depth of field at the smallest numbers. You'll also find a more detailed lesson in depth of field in part one of this series. Mastering your digital camera.

Ratings and Reviews

Gary Hook

Wow, what a wonderful journey. I love the concept of telling a story with one's photos and as I go through past images, I'm seeing them in a much different perspective. That's the good news, The bad? The lost opportunities I never 'saw' before; however that is a good thing. There is so much to internalize with the material so that it can get out of the head and into the 'heart'. I also found the concept really helps me with composition, both in camera and post. Biggest take away, as Chris underscored in his closing, is to slooooow down, take the time and feel it. Don't be so quick to leave one scene as there remain other aspects, yet to be discovered. A great experience that I truly enjoyed Thank you


I loved this course - in particular the latter part of it in which he demonstrated how post processing lets you really tell the story of the image. Another fabulous course. Thanks Chris & thanks Creative Live.

Abdullah Alahmari

Thanks a lot to mr. Chris Weston This course is great and It is a 🌟 🌟 🌟 🌟 🌟 course for me. Beside the other course ( mastering photographic composition and visual storytelling) both courses are Complementing to each other and highly recommended.

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