Focusing in on the perfect solution

The following question may have a touch of OCD but, if you have dimmer switches in your house, have you ever thought about how do you decide on the perfect light level for tonight’s movie screening? OK, probably not. You just turn it till it roughly feels right and why would you waste your time analysing the situation any more than that?

I’m going to use this silly example to show a simple technique that can be used to find that sweet spot and it’s the same technique that can be used in creative situations.

Similar to the dimmer switch, we have ever increasing fine control of elements in our designs. We can slide this slider that way and that slider the other but when it comes to fine control, how do you know whether 48% is better or worse than 52%? The good news is that unless you are working on something with the mathematical importance you don’t need to know.

There’s a simple trick that enables you to find that sweet spot. Take that dimmer switch, colour temperature slider or even the focus ring on your camera. Now increase the value until it’s definitely too high. Using the camera as an example you have turned the focus ring so the image is clearly out of focus. Change direction and turn the other way, decrease the value until it is as out of focus as it was before. Your sweet spot, your focus is somewhere in the range you just defined.

To find it, start to increase that value again but this time don’t go so high, then decrease but don’t go so low. Wiggle away in decreasing amounts until you hone in on that sweet spot.

Finally, stand back, it should be spot on. Your image should be in focus, the temperature of your image should be sweet and that dimmer should be creating the perfect mood for your movie night.