Landscape photography tips: Sharp focusing technique and utilizing hyperfocal distance


posted Thursday, January 25, 2018 at 8:29 AM EDT


In the latest video of his "Landscape Photography Journals" video series, photographer Dave Morrow extensively covers how he captures sharp images with perfect focus. It may seem obvious how to capture in-focus images, but there are techniques to help ensure that you capture a sharp photo every time and that your focus is always precise.

Morrow is a landscape photographer, so his techniques won't apply directly to all types of photography, such as wildlife photographer, because Morrow's process is deliberate and takes time. In addition to covering his personal workflow, Morrow also discusses hyperfocal distance. This is an important concept for landscape photography. If you're unfamiliar with hyperfocal distance, it is essentially the distance at which you can focus while maintaining "acceptable sharpness" throughout the entire frame. What counts as acceptable to you may be different to someone else, so it's not a completely universal concept. However, the idea is that you can figure out a focus distance, given your focal length and aperture, which will ensure that subjects near the front of the frame and back of the frame will appear sharp. You can read more about it here and learn more in the video below.

In addition to determining a hyperfocal distance, which requires you to have a sense of what you consider to be "acceptably sharp," you also need to be familiar with how your camera's live view functionality works and at what apertures your own lenses perform best. I know that my primary landscape zoom lens works best from f/8 through f/11, for example, so I try to shoot images near that aperture range. However, I also know that I can make nice prints from images shot at f/13 or even f/16 depending upon the subject matter in the image. There's no free lunch in photography, so you need to understand your gear to be able to determine which tradeoffs are acceptable in any given situation. Do you need more depth of field or more sharpness? Do you need more sharpness or a slower shutter speed? There are many considerations and familiarity with your equipment will arm you with the information you need to make the right call in the field.

For more videos like this from Dave Morrow, head over to his YouTube channel. He has a wealth of free educational content at his website in addition to a beautiful portfolio of images, so be sure to check that out as well.

(Via Dave Morrow)