05 Changing the focus plane
At the moment, the focus bug’s plane of focus is perpendicular to the camera position. You can create perfectly good defocusing effects without changing this, but Focal Point 2 has a clever trick up its sleeve to help simulate real-life defocusing more effectively. If you alt/option drag up or down within the focus bug, you change the plane of focus so that it matches the planes in your picture.
In this instance, I’ve tried to angle the focus plane so that it matches the receding plane of the shingle beach.
The next thing is to explain how the focus bug works, and what those control handles do.
First, the two handles sticking out of the top and bottom (I’ve circled the top on in red). You drag these handles to change the width of the focus bug – you make it wider to defocus over a longer distance, or narrower to create a shallower depth of field effect. If these handles are sticking out of the side, you need to rotate the focus bug through 90 degrees, and you can do this by dragging these control handles.
06 Blur and feathering
There are two more control handles going off at 45 degrees. The left one controls the optional vignette effect, but I’m not going to use that for this shot and I’ll concentrate on the right-hand control point, which controls the blur strength and feathering.
This is where it gets trickier. You drag the handle outwards to increase the blur and up or down to change the feathering effect (the distance over which the blur is blended in).
I’m sure the focus bug is intended to be as intuitive and efficient as possible, but I do still find it quite difficult to get my head around.
07 Final positioning
As you’re making these adjustments, you’ll often need to move the whole defocus effect up and down the frame, and you can do this simply by dragging the focus bug. I’ve moved it a little lower in the frame here to make it look as if the camera was focused on the bow of the boat.
08 Focus masking
But there is a problem. The old wooden post used to tie up the boat, and the stern of the boat itself, appear out of focus, and that’s because they’re not on the same plane of focus as the shingle beach but they’re still affected by this blanket defocus effect.
The solution is some manual masking, and to do this you select the brush tool on the bottom toolbar, open the FocusBrush panel on the right and click the button at the top left to display ‘Paint Focus’.