One of my first (and early) lessons in photography came directly from a wildlife photography book.
As you see in the tag line of my company, I provide “Fine Art Landscape Photography”. I am not a wildlife photographer. Nor am I a portrait, wedding or sports photographer. However, I enjoy reading books about the different genres of photography, and at times, pick up very helpful hints that can be utilized in my landscape photography.
Such was the situation when, years ago, I was reading Moose Peterson’s book.
On page 114, of Moose Peterson’s Guide to Wildlife Photography, there was the lesson, in one simple statement.
“Keep in mind with wildlife we’re always focusing on the eye …”
How enlightening those few words were. Not-withstanding depth of field, movement, element placement, light, perspective, etc., my own eyes were opened to one critical feature in the successful composition of a wildlife image!
Key focal point
The eyes are the focal point. The remainder of the image supplements this.
With the animal looking at, or parallel to the camera, the eyes will always command the viewer’s attention.
The next time you view wildlife images in a book, magazine, or gallery, look at the animal’s eyes. Are they in sharp focus, allowing you to almost “look into its soul”?
If they are out-of-focus, do you still find the image enjoyable?
Portraits and Candids
The same is true for taking portraits and candid shots of people. The subject’s eyes, when looking at, or parallel to the camera, must be sharp and in focus.
Just as with wildlife, if the subjects eyes are out-of-focus, the image has immediately lost its appeal.
It is through their eyes that the viewer can make the attachment to the image.
Translating to Landscapes
Capturing landscape photography, one does not have the subjects eyes on which to focus.
Rather, the entire landscape is open for interpretation. Any part, or all of it, is available as the photographer so chooses.
Finding the “Eye”
In any landscape photograph, there is a key focal point somewhere within the image. It may not be immediately visible, though it does exist.
The photographer, through artful composition, selects the location that becomes the “eye” of the scene.
Depending upon the image composition, this could be a single fixed location (with shallow depth of field), or a line, curve or circle of elements directing the viewer to one specific area of the scene.
Always in focus
As is the case with wildlife and portrait photographers, landscape photographers, too, must keep the “eye” in sharp focus.
Doing so isn’t always easy and may very well require photographer intervention.
Doing so, your resulting images will be worth it!