With the exception of photos that either intentionally show motion or are taken as soft-focus images (such as a portrait), tack-sharp focus is one of the first things that everyone notices first about an image. Going a step further, the center of focus should be on the center of interest of the subject. The sharpest point of the picture should pinpoint what the photographer sees as the most important aspect of the image.
The exposure (the combination of focal length [lens or zoom setting], aperture, shutter speed, and ISO) should also enhance the intent of the photo.
Questions that can help you evaluate whether focus and exposure settings are appropriate for an image include:
- Is the sharpest point in the image on the center of interest of the subject of the photo?
- Does the depth of field enhance the subject, mood, or look of the image or does it distract from it?
- Does the focal length or zoom setting enhance the subject and message?
- Does the image have good overall contrast for the type image the photographer intended?
- Does the color appear natural and/or does it help set the mood of the image?
- If the image is in color, would it be stronger in in black and white, or vice versa?