Emphasize What’s Important

Well, duh!  Everybody knows that: to emphasize what’s important.  But not everybody does it. Watch commercials on TV and you’ll see some pretty stoopid (sic) messages. They’ll use sex and slapstick humor for most of those expensive seconds and then tack on the real message like an afterthought. If we’re not paying attention, we won’t catch the message or the weakness of how it’s told. (But, I’ll bet you will now.)

In our photography, we need to make sure we’re directing our viewers’ eyes to where they need to go – the Center of Interest. We’ve already looked at two ways to do that: Make it Lightest/Brightest (lightest in tonal value and/or brightest in color) and Largest/Closest. Both techniques put the emphasis on the Subject, the Center of Interest.  THAT’S what it’s all about! We’re emphasizing what’s important.

Another way to think about it is to show more of the C of I than of anything else. It must dominate the scene!  Our attention (the eye/mind thing) is compelled to pay more attention to whatever we can see the most of. Partial objects get partial notice.

You’ve probably figured it out by now that these aren’t just tips, tricks and techniques – these are principles that can guide your image making.  They don’t as much tell you how as why.  Anybody can use them with any camera, anywhere and anytime.

Let’s learn from the little girl wistfully admiring the bride’s dress.  Our attention is drawn to her because she is the only “object” of which we can see all.  Everything and everyone else, though towering over her, is only shown in part.  I took my own advice here and shot like Santa Clause (generously) and cropped later like Scrooge.

YOUR ASSIGNMENT:  Shoot several “somethings” that catch your eye – one image of each, each in its own frame – making sure to show all of whatever they  are.  Later, at your PC, crop to de-emphasize everything but your C of I.  In so doing, you will have emphasized what’s important. Finally, congratulate yourself for adding a new awareness to your photographic vision!

P.S.  If you’d like to learn when to use which F/Stops, Shutter Speeds and ISOs, check this out : http://www.obedientcamera.com/exposure_expose.html

It’s Exposure Expose’ and it will get you out of Auto and into Manual mode in 4 hours flat.  Guaranteed.  Click on the link above.


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  1. Hmmm. Finally figgered out how to add ‘Leave a Comment.’ Hope you will, too.

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