It’s something we all care about, right? Sharpness. As a landscape photographer, with very few exceptions, taking sharp photos will be an important part of your work. That’s why you’ve spent so much time learning about the technical side of photography — and so much money buying high-quality camera equipment. This article covers everything that matters if you want your landscape photos to have as much sharpness and detail as possible, including the 15 most important tips to keep in mind.
One of the most misunderstood parts about landscape photography is the correct way to fit your entire scene within a photo’s depth of field. Where do you focus? What aperture should you use? You might think that these questions are easy to answer with a hyperfocal distance chart, where you provide your focal length and aperture, and the chart tells you exactly where to focus. There’s only one hiccup — if you want the sharpest possible results, these charts are spectacularly wrong. For most landscape and architectural photographers, that’s a big deal. This article explains everything about hyperfocal distance charts: what they are, why they fail, and where to focus instead.
Normally, if you’re using a tripod, camera shake isn’t something you’ll have to worry very much about. However, there are some obvious exceptions. If you’ve ever found yourself taking pictures in heavy winds, you’ll know the difficulties of capturing sharp photos — particularly if you’re using a telephoto lens. This seems like an impossible situation; what do you do when a tripod isn’t enough to stop your camera from shaking? Luckily, there are ways to improve sharpness even in windy conditions and come away with photos that are completely usable. I’ll cover some of the most important here.
Shutter speed is one of the most important settings to know as a photographer. It doesn’t get any more fundamental than this. To be specific, shutter speed is the length of time your camera sensor (or film) is exposed to light — essentially, how long your camera spends taking a photo. As simple as this sounds, though, shutter speed has an enormous influence on how your images appear. The two biggest effects are exposure and motion blur. I’ll cover them here.
A lot of landscape photographers are interested in focus stacking — combining multiple images of the same scene, each focused at different distances, into a single photo. This is a useful tool to have at your disposal, since it lets you take pictures in more situations than you otherwise could. For example, if elements of your photo are very close to your camera, focus stacking may be the only way to get a sharp shot. Although I don’t use this technique for every photo, it’s something that I keep in mind when I’m taking pictures in challenging conditions. This article gives an overview of focus stacking for landscape photography, including step-by-step instructions on how to focus stack photos in Photoshop. All of these tips are also relevant for other types of photography, not just landscapes.
Camera shake can be a real hassle and pain when shooing off a tripod. Sometimes camera shake can be completely eliminated with a couple of simple steps and other times, it can be quite painful and sometimes even impossible to deal with. How does one reduce camera shake? Are remote shutter releases helpful in reducing camera shake? Is it possible to eliminate it completely? Since I see this issue so often in the field, I decided to write a detailed article that specifically addresses how one can reduce camera shake when shooting on a tripod.
Sharpening remains a particularly confusing topic among photographers, especially given the tremendous number of post-processing options available. Some post-processing software has so many options that it is hard to know where to start; others do not let you use optimal methods in the first place. If you are trying to use the best sharpening settings – including the lowest possible levels of noise and other artifacts – the ideal method is three-step sharpening.
Photographers have a dilemma. If you want your photographs to have the largest possible depth of field – from the foreground to infinity – a small aperture is absolutely necessary. At the same time, though, a small aperture causes your photograph to lose sharpness from diffraction. So, where’s the sweet spot? In this article, I will cover how to choose the sharpest possible aperture for such a photograph, including mathematically accurate charts (free for printing) that are easy to use in the field.
When my article on field curvature was published a while ago, where I talked about how one could do a quick analysis of lens MTF data and determine if it exhibits any field curvature, some of our readers expressed interest in understanding how to read MTF charts. Since we talk quite a bit about lens performance and MTF data here at Photography Life, I decided to write a detailed article on the subject and do my best to thoroughly explain everything related to MTF curves, charts and all the verbiage that comes with them.
Adobe Photoshop Lightroom comes with powerful tools to sharpen images during post-processing. Located in the Develop module of Lightroom, the “Detail” box contains both Sharpening and Noise Reduction tools that allow Photographers to enhance their digital workflows by fine-tuning images and getting them ready to be published and printed in a quick and efficient way. Since I have already covered the noise reduction part in my Noise Reduction Tutorial, in this article, I will show you how to properly use the Sharpening tool instead.