Definition: Focal point; principle focus; point of interest

Focal point | Glossary entry

Focal point; point of interest; point of focus; principal focus; focus

…In photographic aesthetics and art work

In photography, the fine arts and aesthetics and in photographic composition, the focal point of an image has great importance. It is the point in the image where the photographer hopes to focus the attention of the viewer. The focal point constitutes the centre of, or point of, interest for the viewer.

You can focus the attention of the viewer on the image by using various forms of emphasis. For photographers such emphasis is often created by taking a particular “Point of View” (PoV). That is, the angle, or frame-of-view that you choose to direct the attention of the viewer. Sometimes a PoV will capture the attention, sometimes it will not. Your choice as an artist is to make the viewer look where you want them to look. So the impact of the point of view is important to creating a strong focal point in the image.

To enhance the PoV your emphasis can also include use of…

  • colour,
  • tone,
  • texture,
  • shape,
  • form,
  • frameing,
  • perspective,
  • subject,

…and any of a whole range of other composition devices.

…In photographic optics (lenses and lens terminology)

The focal point or point of focus is otherwise known as the principal focus or just focus. It is the point that parallel rays of light converge on after passing through a lens (converging or convex lens). Alternatively, it is the point from which they appear to diverge after refraction or reflection through a lens (diverging or convex lens).

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