Lens-Artists Challenge #121 – Focus on the Subject

white,birch, pan


“The camera is a remarkable instrument. Saturate yourself with your subject, and the camera will all but take you by the hand and point the way.”

Margaret Bourke-White

You might wonder why, when Patti has challenged us to “Focus on the Subject” I would open with an image created by panning. It’s simple really, and in tune with Ms. Bourke-White’s quote. I distinctly remember the moment when I captured this scene. The snow had just fallen and its pure white, combined with the matching white of the trees, was mesmerizing. I felt a pan would draw the viewer’s eye not only to the birches, but also to my feelings about the abstract quality of the  scene’s purity. What do you think?

desert, landscape, sand, rock


“Deciding on a composition when framing a scene is an exercise in subtraction. Unlike the painter who starts with a blank canvas and builds up his image by the addition of paint, as photographers we work in the other direction.”

Pete Bridgewood

Unlike my opening landscape, a more concrete version appealed to me in the Judean desert scene above. In this one I wanted to illustrate how harsh and vast the desert can be. The eye is drawn to the distant rocks by the formations which frame them in the middle ground as well as by the triangular rock which acts almost as an arrow.

In both my opening image and the one above, my choice of aperture was key to translating my impressions. In Fujifilm’s “Dose of Inspiration” this month several professional photographers commented on the importance of aperture in creating images. Their comments were in sync with Patti’s challenge as well as the DPS link she included. For these images, f/22 allowed enough light to achieve my opening pan, while f/8 brought the entire desert scene into focus.

red leaves, blue sky


“Successful Photographers must possess both Vision and Focus neither of which have anything to do with the eyes.”

Kevin Russo

As mentioned in Patti’s post, color can be another way to create focus on a subject. The intense red of the foliage against the blue of the sky in the image above leaves no doubt about autumn’s arrival. One cannot look at the image without focusing on the subject in this case!

door, antique, laundry, peeking


When you begin viewing the world through a camera lens, your senses sharpen as your mind and eyes are forced to focus on people and things never before noticed or thought about.”

Kent Reno

Another suggestion for drawing the eye to your intended subject is capturing it through a frame –  a window, a door or a hallway for example. In the image above the open door leads the viewer directly to the subject. One wonders if she is reading, studying, responding to emails, surfing the web or playing a computer game as the laundry dries above.

With the image below my goal was to present the scene as if looking through the eyes of the two tourists. Petra’s Treasury is a stunning surprise reached at the end of a beautiful canyon of rose-colored rocks. One’s first glimpse of its size and beauty, carved into the rocks so long ago, is a magical moment indeed. It seemed to me that the ancient Nabataeans’ placement of the structure was no accident – clearly they too understood the importance of framing the subject.

The Treasury, Petra, red rock


You can’t depend on your eyes if your imagination is out of focus.”

Mark Twain

As we look through our lenses at the beauty of the world, it is equally important to focus on our humanity. My final image this week is among my favorites ever. Its subject is Ezekiel, our warm, genuine, funny and caring safari guide in Botswana. I worked to capture just a bit of his amazing spirit in my capture. Upon our return, I created a children’s book entitled “Ezekiel and the Elephants”, which I’ve since gifted to my nieces and nephews as they began learning to read. Through it, Ezekiel has become part of our family, teaching the next generation the importance of protecting our world and its many creatures.

Africa, tour guide, smile


“You have to focus on what you are doing, not just as a photographer, but as a human being”

Anders Petersen

Speaking of our safari, many thanks as always to those of you who responded to my “What A Treat” post last week. The answer on the young lion’s expression is…….YAWNING! Despite seeing dozens of lions during our safari, we never saw any growl or roar. Also, many of you shared your preference for knowing our themes in advance versus enjoying a surprise. Beginning in November we’ll test advance sharing of our themes. In the final challenge of the month, we will post the theme for the first week of the new month.

Finally, we are excited to announce that next week’s challenge will be guest-hosted by the very talented Ana of Anvica’s Gallery. We look forward to that, as well as to your responses to this week’s challenge. Please be sure to link to Patti’s original post here, and to include the Lens-Artists tag to help us find you.  Until then wishing you a safe and beautiful week ahead.



140 thoughts on “Lens-Artists Challenge #121 – Focus on the Subject

  1. Your shots never cease to amaze, Tina. Wonderful demonstrations and interpretations of the theme of focus. I didn’t realise I didn’t realise it had just snowed, but the neutral-cool shades made me think it was cold. While the desert rocks are harsh, the warm browns and reds of the desert make it seem a welcoming place to me. Then again, I like warm climates.

    I really like you combined reality and lens together – and focusing on our humanity is something we shoul all really strive to do. Ezekial seems like a down to earth person with such a genuine smile. Protecting the animals and our world is a tough job but people like Ezekial are amazing at doing it for the greater good.

  2. Pingback: Lens-Artist-PC-121-Focus-on-the-Subject – WoollyMuses

  3. Tina, I’m always in awe after I look at your photos. They tell a story of growth as an artist in so many different ways from such diverse places around the world each just as outstanding as the others. I also love the quotes. You have a ready supply to support your teaching. Superb. Thank you. Now I’m off to Patty’s.

    • Greetings Marsha and many thanks. Glad this one caught your eye. We’ve been so fortunate to have traveled so widely in the past now that travel has been put on hold. Here’s to a future where travel is again an option!

      • I talked to a friend in France yesterday. They are in full lockdown again until Dec. 1st. If they go out without documentation they get fined three times, and eventually thrown into jail. They can only be outside one hour per day. That sounds like a recipe for disaster to me.

      • WOW – the whole country????? It does sound really frightening doesn’t it. Maybe they’re hoping to address their terrorism at the same time.

  4. Unique images as always. The panning shot resembles a painting and, yes, there’s an abstract aura to it as well. I was really interested to read your thoughts about aperture. I don’t always have much luck with f8 and getting such a clear shot, but more practice might do it. Love those red leaves. Wow!

  5. Excellent examples of focusing on the subject, Tina. I like the contrast between the first two shots. And those leaves are really eye-catching. The open door image worked perfectly because the first thing I noticed was the girl sitting on the step.

  6. Before I read your texts, my mind was trying to work out what that was in the background near the towels. I didn’t realise it was a person. But the framing does draw the eye straight to it.

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