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Perhaps the most obvious principle of composition, dominance or emphasis can instantly create a focal point in your image. It is the largest, darkest, brightest or most colourful aspect of the photo, that is also the subject or the ‘focal point’.
A portrait, with the face dominant, leaves no question of what the photographer wishes to emphasize.
With modern high-speed shutters, it would have been a cinch to pre-compose this image and snap off a few continuous frames to catch the skater in midstride, however, the crooked horizon suggests the photographer may not have been quite prepared for his subject and perhaps was only able to release one shot before the skater disappeared around the bend.
Using light to emphasize the subject is classic means of focusing your attention.
Not all dominant elements are focal points, however. In this case, the brightness of the boat creates the emphasis.
Size and an early morning key light pull the eye to the focal point in the following image, but the eye still explores the landscape.
Sometimes the focal point can be disguised by dominant elements.
No need to guess the focal point here…
Dominance and emphasis pulls your eye to the centre of interest with size, colour, value (darkness), contrast and brightness. It is so easy to understand that we may not actually realize that is relevant. Dominance can also create a hierarchy of values, which leads us to …
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