Monday, June 08, 2015

Photoshop - Drawing the eye to the subject area

Many times when taking a photo you are focusing on a specific spot in the photo. It could be a person's face, something on the horizon etc. The other parts of the photo while sometimes necessary can be distracting from the subject you want to highlight.
There are three factors that can draw the eye to a particular area. They are:
  1. light
  2. color
  3. sharpness/contrast
 So that being the case, if you want to mute out the edges of the photo or the area outside your subject you'll want to:
  1. darken
  2. desaturate
  3. blur
Or, you could use any combination of these to get the same effect.
Here is the original photograph. The hand is very distracting.

Here is the photo after retouching.
I selected the butterfly, feathered the edge, then selected the inverse. (Select - Inverse)
I blurred, darkened and desaturated the area outside the butterfly.
Your eye is drawn right into the butterfly. I overdid this a bit just to make it easier to see. You'll want to create a more subtle effect by feathering your selection out more.

The other factor helping to draw the eye into the butterfly is the fact that the rule of thirds is used here. Your eye naturally follows a visual path to the intersections of the thirds of the photo.

The image below shows these intersections which are cut into thirds from left to right and from top to bottom. The resulting intersecting lines are where you want to place your subject as shown below.
Fortunate for us, Photoshop automatically shows these intersecting lines when cropping. This makes finding these focal points much easier!

For more information on the rule of thirds see my previous post on the Rule of Thirds.

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