Subrata Sarkar

Pin-Sharp Landscape Photo from Front to Back

Lanscape photo is all about pin sharp focus from corner to corner. There are three popular forcusing techniques available for this. One-third Focusing, Double Distance Focusing and Focus Stacking. Because Focus Stacking involves a lot of post production that the other two, I will skip it in this article.

As we know, the primary and final demand of Landscape photography is “everything in focus” i.e. starting from the closest object in your frame to the infinity, let’s stay a mountain on the horizon!

But before I begin, let’s talk about some ideal gears and imporant basic camera/lens settngs that are common and highly recommended in landscape photography.

  1. A steady tripod
  2. An ND filter kit (not mandatory bt recommended) ranging between ND-4 and ND-16 and a graduated filter kit would be very handy at times.
  3. A (DSLR/Mirror Less) Camera which gives you the ability to see the scene in live view mode.
  4. While shooting put the focus on Manual mode.
  5. Turn off any image stabilization option. They sound different for different manufacturer like IS (Image Stabilizer: Canon Lenses) / VC (Vibration Comensation: Tamron Lenses) / VR (Vibration Reduction: Nikon Lenses) but do the same thing.
  6. Set the Aperture value somewhere between F8 and F11. Usually, an aperture within this range is able to produce the maximum depth of field. But it might vary depending on your lens and light condition when you are taking the photo.
  7. Shutter speed will depend on the scene you want to photograph. So, you might go with Aperture Priority mode so that camera determines the required shutter speed for currently set apertue value.

At this point, I assume that your camera is properly mounted on the tripod and turned on, IS/VC/VR is turned off, Focus is set to Manual and Live View Mode is turned on. Now, let’s jump straight into the focusing techniques.

At this point, I assume that your camera is properly mounted on the tripod and turned on, IS/VC/VR is turned off, Focus is set to Manual.   This is highly recommended that the Live View Mode of your camera is turned on. Now, let’s jump straight into the focusing techniques.

One-Third Focusing Method:

Decide the closest object and the farthest object (infinity) you want in your photo. Manually move your focus point approximately to one third of your camera’s LCD screen and lock it there. To find out the one-third position, I would recommend you to draw an imaginary horizontal line on your LCD close to the one-third position and move the focus point on this imaginary line. Remember, the bottom of the LCD screen is the baseline and you go upward to reach the one-third position.

At this stage, zoom in the frame and traverse from one corner to the other. If you see everything is in perfect focus you are done. If not, adjust the one-third position. In case, adjusting one-third position does not work you need to further adjust the Aperture value. Even moving the tripod a little forward or backward also helps you to nail down the focus!

Double Distance Focusing Method:

Unlike One-Third focusing technique, we need not to draw any imaginary horizontal line or calculate an approximation for this tecnique. Rather, it is fairly straight-forward. All we need to know the distance of the closest object from the camera in focus. Say that disrance is 15 feet. So, we need to lock our focus point on an object which is double that distance from the camera, i.e. 30 feet. This technique works pretty well, however, there is a downside of it. You have to literally measure the distances and for that you have to carry a measuring tape with you! However, it is great if your lens has a Distance Scale built in!

Hyper Focal Distance

In optics and photography, hyperfocal distance is a distance beyond which all objects can be brought into an “acceptable” focus. As the hyperfocal distance is the focus distance giving the maximum depth of field, it is the most desirable distance to set the focus of a fixed-focus camera. – Wikipedia

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