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Taking pictures - choosing your focus

FireFire LondonPosts: 7,661
I thought it might be useful to post a note on choosing a focal point in photos. I'm no camera expert (at all) and I'm sure those who know can correct me / add more detail as needed. My hope is that it will help photos to be as clear as you want them to be.
Smart phones (such as iphones) and digital cameras have a built in 'auto-focus' function. This means that if you turn on your phone / camera, it will make its best effort at creating a good picture in focus (no blurring). This works pretty well if you are taking a picture of the sea in the distance or a forest on a hill - where the focus of the picture is far off and pretty much in one plane. If you are taking pictures of multiple things close up or there are things at different distances in your frame - your camera will struggle more. It will not be obvious to it, which thing is most important to have in clear focus and which things to blur. It has to choose.

On most phones you should see square that shows you where the focus of the picture will be.

In the above picture, the area in the yellow box will be clear and sharp and the rest will be more blurred (because the camera can't focus on everything at once).

You might be able to see in the above photo a little red box this time. Because of the different distances of the things in the frame, the camera might get confused and focus on the wrong subject to make most clear. In the top picture, the little red box is on the flower in the foreground, and this flower is in focus and the background flower is blurred. In the lower picture, the box is on the background flower, and the foreground flower is blurred. (It has to choose)

Most digital cameras work in a similar way. If you check where your focal frame is, when taking pictures to post, you should be able to choose exactly which features you want to be most clear.

There are other things to help, but just keeping it simple, I hope this might be useful. There is more detail in this article.


  • 2oaktrees2oaktrees West Midlands Posts: 153
    Hey Fire, I didn’t know I could do that with my phone. I usually hold my phone camera at an object for ages in order to get it in focus and wondered why my close up shots were so blurry. Thanks for this amazing tip, it will help a great deal.🤗
  • Blue OnionBlue Onion Posts: 2,540
    Thanks!  Now, if only I had a smart phone..
    Utah, USA.
  • JellyfireJellyfire SuffolkPosts: 741
    Just to point out on iPhones (not sure about others), just tap the screen and it will focus on that point, and also bring up the exposure slider which lets you lighten or darken the image accordingly 
  • LynLyn DevonPosts: 16,828
    The iPad also focuses by tapping on the screen.
    Gardening on the wild, windy west side of Dartmoor. 

  • FireFire LondonPosts: 7,661
    :) Blue, I guess if you have no camera, blurry pictures won't be a problem. 🌱🌱
  • Blue OnionBlue Onion Posts: 2,540
    Haha.   :D  I do have an iPad.. but its not something I carry around outside in my pocket.  And not having Facebook, Instragram, Snapchat, etc (I am one of those 'weird' millennials), I don't have much of an outlet for a steady stream of images.. aside from my parents (who would enjoy a steady stream of grandkid pictures).  I have a prepaid 'dumb' phone.. and put the saved money towards plants and gardening toys.  

    I do appreciate your post though, especially for those in need of help with macro images.  How many posted pictures do we get with blurry twigs in front of a crisp background?  Thanks for your public service.  
    Utah, USA.
  • a1154a1154 Posts: 819
    Interesting article on beechgrove 1st episode about taking garden photos. You get that program in englandshire on Sunday I think? And in Utah, I suspect not at all ! 
  • FireFire LondonPosts: 7,661
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