How to Take Sharp Landscape Photos

15th March 2017

After reading this, your landscape images will never look the same again..


Technique 1: Focus 1/3 into the scene

For most landscape shots you’ll usually want foreground to background as sharp as possible. I won’t bore, confuse or nerd you out with the theory of hyperfocal distance, however if you focus 1/3 into the scene at a low aperture (f/13, f/16 or so) the entire scene will be sharp. Yes its that simple!

There is a caveat to this rule though, and that is if you choose too low an aperture like f/22 the effects of diffraction start to kick in making the image blur.

Technique 2: Focus Stacking

This nifty technique utilises the power of digital technology and Photoshop. You may have discovered or already know that your lens has a ‘sweet spot’. Some say its around aperture f/8 some think its around f/9. This ‘sweet spot’ is the aperture where your lens produces the sharpest results.

Why not take multiple photos using this aperture of the foreground, mid and background then combine the images together.

Genius! That is what focus stacking is. In fact, its super popular among Macro photographers to get whole images of insects and plants super sharp instead of just the eyes.

Mountain Sunset

In addition to the above techniques don’t forget the essentials:

1. Use a solid tripod

Ever notice that both snipers and photographers learn to hold their breath when taking a shot? Even the humble heart beat can cause that shot to be missed. This is why a tripod needs to be used, not only to stabilize the shot but to reduce any sort of shake. Crisp, clean, blur free photos will be your reward.

There is no substitute for a decent tripod.

2. Know your subject

This revolves around what you’re focusing on. If its the rock in front of you then make sure you’re using the correct aperture to have that rock super sharp. If its the sand dune leading from your feet into the horizon then the same again, be aware of this. Focus on your subject with intention and purpose.

3. Use Mirror Lockup

This is why I like using Mirrorless cameras instead of DSLRs. There’s no mirror movement that will cause vibrations or introduce image blur. However if you have a DSLR system, there will be a setting on most to lock up your mirror. Usually it’ll be by the letters “Mup” or something similar.

Use it as its a landscape photographers friend.

4. Take off Extra Filters

This one is really just for the OCD pixel peepers at heart. There’s theory out there that removing those extra pieces of glass you place in front of the lens may help with picture sharpness. I’m no scientist and I’m not sure about how accurate this is but its a no brainer that if you place a cheap, low quality filter in front of your lens, you’ll lose some optical quality. How much may vary depending on the filter quality, I’ve certainly noticed it!

Hot Air Balloon