The Ingenuity of Selective Focus

In today’s world, railroads still fascinate many.  With the use of the older rail system with upgrades, the railroad today proves to be a cheaper way to travel and to transport goods.  In 1789, the railroad mastermind William Jessup, developed the wagons with the flanged wheels to grip the iron on the rails.  Little did he know that this would lead to the transition into the locomotive, and so on, in the expansion of our railroad today.

Looking at this image focusing on the rails shows the importance of the actual acuteness of the system.  The fundamental foundation of our rail system is made clearer with the use of selective focus.  When viewing this image, the eyes cue in on the main idea, so to speak, of this photograph.  The blurred milieu still lends itself to the even, ongoing plane that seems to go without end.  The ongoing image into the distance gives the feeling of anticipation of what is to come, or the haunting feeling that the railroad industry is coming to a near-end.

Hence, the actual blurred area also plays a dynamic role in the photograph.  It is part of the scene; the part of the scene that actually has created the focal point.  The background is where the sharp image of the photograph evolved from, thus making it just as important as the sharp foreground.  In this photograph, the background gives the looker a curiosity about what is going to happen in this scene.

The image will acquire many looks from the audience as it has the blurring in addition to the focus.  The viewers will look a few times to get a feel for the photograph and to analyze in their mind as to what the photographer is trying to communicate.  That is exactly what the cameraperson wants the viewer to do; to look, look again, think, analyze, reflect, and summarize.  If the photographer can achieve this out of a few lookers, then the artist has certainly been successful with this picture.

The focal point of the photograph will create a sense of value to the image.  The spotlight is on what is truly meaningful to the photographer or the theme of the image.  The eyes of the viewer will come to that point, leading the viewer to think about what is really important here.

Selective focus is a tool that enables the photographer to achieve three dimensions.  The background of the photograph, the middle ground, and the razor-sharp focal area all three combined together to create a representation of a topic that may possibly be something the photographer or the viewers are passionate about.

Any photograph that makes one area of the scene more dramatic than the others is definitely sending a message to the observer.  The photograph is speaking to them, in a sense, by saying, “Look here, not there as much,” and the graphic artist is saying without words, “I am passionate about this and there is a reason why I want you to focus in on this area.

The above graphic image will have an effect on people of a variety of ages.  The elderly may view this photograph with sadness as the rail system is not like it used to be.  With the advent of other technologies in transportation, they may see this as a downturn in what was to them a booming time in their younger lives.  The photograph may bring back the memories of what once was in the rail industry.

The younger generation that grew up along a rail system may look at this image and have thoughts of seeing cargo, such as coal, being transported day after day.  The sounds of the screaming wheels when braking against the rails, the distant rumbling of a train that is on its way, the bright, red flashing lights and stopper at an intersection may all come to mind.

Children who see this image may look at it in awe.  They may wonder what will come to be of the railroad in the future, as many may have a fascination for trains themselves.  Children may look at this image and want to learn more about railroading, as the dimensions and the depth of focus will surely peak their curiosity.

Selective focus can be achieved also by purchasing software (if your camera doesn’t support it) that will in turn allow the cameraperson to upload pictures and change them the way they would like to, increasing the effect and beauty of the photograph.  Photoshop is another option that will allow even the most inexperienced photographer to create that focal point.  Experienced photographers can attain a variety of lenses for their camera that can be swapped on and off for dramatic images.

This graphic design technique allows the photo artist to choose what to highlight in the photograph, thus communicating with the viewers what they may be thinking, or a point they want to make.  This is a very profound way to display a multitude of images, as it is showing several dimensions in one photograph.  Selective focus, or depth of field, lets the cameraperson correspond with the viewers without ever having to say a word.  This type of interaction with the onlooker is much more striking and dramatic than one would be that called for verbal explanation.


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Bethany is a freelance writer and happily married mother of 6 that loves to travel and experience thrill-seeking adventures.