Focal Point 2 is part of OnOne Perfect Photo Suite. It’s designed to replicate the shallow depth of field effects associated with wide lens apertures and the changing focus planes of tilt shift lenses, using one or more ‘Focus Bugs’ and manual ‘focus painting’ brush tools.
More than that, though, it’s designed to help you emphasis your picture’s focal point – hence the name. And to do this, it offers vignette tools as well as focus adjustments. In fact, it’s possible to combine Focal Point Focus Bugs and Vignettes in subtle and creative ways.
To show how this works, I’ve chosen this street shot taken on a rainy day in the city. It was shot on a smaller-format camera which has left everything in the scene sharp, including the background. I’d like to soften and lighten this background so that the girl with the umbrella is more clearly defined.
01 Default Focus Bug
When you start Focal Point 2, it will display a Focus Bug with the settings you used last time. Rather than trying to unravel these to get back to a basic starting point, you can just click the ‘Reset’ button in the FocusBug panel on the right.
02 Move and reshape
You start by dragging the centre of the Focus Bug to move it over the object you want to keep sharp. You can then drag the four edge handles, in other words the bug’s ‘antennae’ (circled), to change its shape – to follow the outline of the girl with the umbrella, I’ve had to make the Focus Bug narrower and much taller.
03 Blur and Feather
This single antenna on the right-hand side controls both the degree of the background blur and how smoothly it’s feathered in with the object in the foreground. You drag the handle outwards, away from the centre of the Focus Bug, to increase the blur, and anti-clockwise to increase the feather value.
Here, I’ve gone for a relatively small degree of blur and maximum feathering. I know I’m not going to be able to follow the girl’s outline exactly with this simple elliptical shape, so my aim is to just make the blur blend in subtly instead.
04 A second Focus Bug
Now here’s the interesting thing about Focal Point 2 – you can have more than one Focus Bug. A lot of the time you might not need this. It depends on how many planes of sharp focus your picture should have, and how technically correct you want to be. In this instance, the girl with the umbrella is perpendicular to the camera, so she should be sharp from top to bottom. But there should also be a narrow plane of sharp focus on the pavement at her feet…
So to create this, I’m adding a second Focus Bug. You can do this in the FocusBug panel, clicking the ‘+’ button at the bottom. You’ll now see two Focus Bugs listed in this panel.
I also need this Focus Bug to be a flat, ‘Planar’ shape rather than the elliptical Focus Bug I used for the girl – and you can swap Focus Bug types using the ‘Shape’ pop-up at the top of the FocusBug panel.
Now all I have to do is use the Focus Bug’s antennae to rotate it and adjust the width, then drag it into position at the girl’s feet.