Weekly Photo Challenge : One

rob paine focus deer deep creek lake

Having a single point of focus in your photographs is crucial, especially when shooting in cluttered environments like a forest (see photo above), or on a city street, see photo below.

For a related post, please see my post from earlier this month or the how choosing the best perspective can make or break a photo.

There always needs to be one part of the image that the viewer can key of off. Without such a visual guide post, the viewer’s eye will not know where to go and looking at an image will not be a very pleasing experience.

rob paine town clock focus oakland md

Here are four easy steps you can follow to make sure your photos maintain a point of focus :

  1. Survey all four corners of your view finder for background clutter before taking a photo. Doing a four corners sweep usually picks up any background noise you might notice see at first.
  2. Once you find the clutter, you need to decide how your are going to soften or reduce it. You can use a longer lens to compress and blur out the busy background (which is what I did in the deer photo at the top of this post taken near Deep Creek Lake , MD) or employ a very low depth of field for a similar effect. You can also reposition your camera to get the clutter clearly out of your way.

  3. Make sure there is a sensible flow to the image you are creating. It is the photographer’s job to arrange things in such a way so the viewer’s eye will know where to go. Usually the brightest part of the photo will be noticed first, so if the main subject of your photo is very dark and the background or something in the background is extremely bright, the viewer’s eye will probably not go where I want it to go.

  4. Use the theory of thirds. You do not always have to follow rules when taking pictures, but the theory of thirds, which in short says you should not center your subject and you should try to place your central subject in either the top third or bottom third or top corner third and so on when ever you can, is usually a good way of making sure your photos have a central point of focus. Following the rule of thirds in the clock photo taken in downtown Oakland, Md., I was able to separate the clock somewhat from the interesting yet busy pattern in the building behind it.

Of course, before you follow any of the steps above, think about what you are shooting and make decide what is the reason you are taking this photo. Ask yourself what do I want people to see? What is the point of this image?

Thanks for dropping by, Rob


  1. I try but am always amazied at what my eye doesn’t see through the view finder. Usually depends on how much time I have and how excited about what I’m shooting. Have to calm dawn sometimes and remember to think of these points. And sometimes I get lucky and everything turns out right. 🙂
    Love the deer photo!


    1. Yes, the other way you can deal with bright backgrounds is by using high sync fill flash on the foreground, which can bring down the background, but then you have to make sure the flash does not kill the natural look of the subject. Its all a balancing game.


      1. I know what you mean. I use it in bright daylight on insect shots. But my problems is doing wide landscapes. Always a problem controlling light on them. The key is time of day, but I rarely get to sites late in the day or early morning.


  2. I love both your photos … so far away from each other … but still such strong “ONE” – the deer is just so adorable … my heart is melting and my urban streak in me … love the clock against the blue in the windows. Excellent entry.


      1. His fur looks so dense and his face so short and full. Maybe it’s the angle or the age of the deer. I’m glad I’m not the only one wondering. I’m pretty good with my wildlife. 🙂


Please feel free to leave a reply. Thank you for taking the time to share your thoughtful feedback, Rob

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