Make no mistake about it, amateur photographers, we live in a point and shoot world. Point and shoot rocks. Forget focus. That’s why I bought a good point and shoot camera.
Then my husband bought me a new digital SLR camera. It has manual focus and auto focus. Guess which one I use. Point and shoot. Everything is in focus. What’s wrong with that?
Focus And Blur, Sitting In A Tree
Here’s the problem with focus. It comes two ways. Auto focus, which never seems to match the focus with my finger on the shutter, hence, frequent out of focus photos.
Or, manual focus, which is God’s way of punishing wannabe photographers.
Manual focus? I remember doing that years ago and had more out of focus photos than with auto focus.
Is there a better way to tame the focus beast? As a matter of fact, yes, thanks to the watchful eye of my Mac360 brethren. It’s an easy to use, inexpensive Mac app called Focus. That’s nice, except Focus doesn’t really focus.
It’s more like unfocus. Using my digital SLR (a nice Canon Rebel, thank you very much, Mister Husband), I learned about depth of field. Many point and shoot digital cameras keep the depth of field wide so nearly everything in a shot is in focus (when the action stops long enough to get focus).
DSLR’s give you options. Tight focus, blurry background. Blurry foreground, focused background. The effects are wonderful, but it takes work to manage all those settings. I like my DSLR but it has as many controls as you’ll find in the Space Shuttle cockpit.
Is there a better way? Focus. I figured out how to set my camera to nearly everything was in focus all the time. Forget depth of field. We’ll fix it in post production.
Focus, the app, lets you add blur to a focused photo with some simple to use presets. Set the area you want to remain in focus and everything else gets nicely blurred.
I’m definitely not a professional photographer, but some of my photos make me look more talented than I am.
Check out what happens when you blur the foreground and blur the background but leave the center in focus.
The presets are simple to use, but you can adjust photos using the tools to the right of the screen, and below the image.
Photos can be cropped with a click or two. Adjust the horizon up or down. Zoom in on a photo.
All the new Lion gestures are supported, too, so you can rotate, pinch, zoom, move and adjust the blur strength just by using your Mac’s trackpad.
Focus is even Full Screen aware, and it understands facial recognition, automatically highlighting faces in photos.
Focus is an app you’ll have fun with immediately, but it needs a few things. Grid lines. Image quality. Non-desctructive TIFF option would be nice.
And, I’d like to see some kind of reverse focus or blur. My old way was to shove a photo in two layers in Photoshop Elements, blur the background layer of the same photo, then erase parts of the in-focus image on the foreground layer. That works, but Focus’ presets are easier to use.
Most of the blurring (anti-focusing?) is done in real time, but Focus seems to prefer more powerful Macs with plenty of RAM. Unfortunately, Focus is Mac App Store only with no try-before-you-buy option.
An even better option is FocalPoint 2, which works with Photoshop, Lightroom, and Aperture, but costs up to 20 times more than Focus.