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Author Topic: Request for Landscape Focusing Advice  (Read 14731 times)

shaner21

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Request for Landscape Focusing Advice
« on: April 15, 2012, 07:43:15 PM »

A relative newcomer to landscape photography and going on my first photo trip for landscapes.  I would like to ask those more experienced, when taking photos of landscape scenes, how do you ensure the image is sharp throughout?  Thank you for any advice.
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Re: Request for Landscape Focusing Advice
« Reply #1 on: April 15, 2012, 07:48:54 PM »

Use a tripod, cable release and mirror lockup (or liveview)
focus on the most dominant feature in the scene
Use liveview zoomed in to focus
for most newer dslrs use aperture from about f5.6 to f11, I tend to use f8 a lot but if I need more depth of field I'll use up to f16
Marc

PS shoot RAW and use deconvolution sharpening
« Last Edit: April 15, 2012, 07:57:33 PM by marcmccalmont »
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Marc McCalmont

shadowblade

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Re: Request for Landscape Focusing Advice
« Reply #2 on: April 15, 2012, 08:27:47 PM »

With the newer, high-resolution bodies, tilt-shift lenses, or view cameras with movements, are you friend, when you're trying to make a landscape sharp from foreground to horizon while avoiding diffraction effects from stopping down too much.
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Tony Jay

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Re: Request for Landscape Focusing Advice
« Reply #3 on: April 15, 2012, 11:38:35 PM »

All good information so far.

I would add these:
Anchor you tripod by hanging a heavy object (perhaps a large full camera bag or a strong bag filled with rocks) with just enough touching the ground to prevent it swinging in a breeze.
Place a beanbag on top of your camera to damp vibration - even with mirror lockup or live view there is mechanical movement.

Make every effort to keep all your sensels (pixels to the uninitiated) in play.

Also, check the sensel pitch of your sensor and do some research to find out the diffraction limits (there is no one size fits all here) that determine at what f-stop diffraction starts to influence sharpness (or more accurately accutance). In my camera it is f11 but this may not be true for your camera.

Finally, shoot several exposures of the same scene including bracketing exposure in case one gets it wrong the first time, but also vary where one is focusing. This is important especially if you do not have live view and depth of field preview. BTW I use live view and depth of field preview together to check crucial focus.

Good luck and enjoy yourself.

Tony Jay
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stamper

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Re: Request for Landscape Focusing Advice
« Reply #4 on: April 16, 2012, 03:58:15 AM »

Follow the advice of the famous award winning Scottish landscape photographer - Colin Prior - and focus on the most important part of the image and set the aperture to f/11. Don't worry if the edges of your image appear a little soft. Many believe it is impossible to get everything in a landscape sharp, just acceptably sharp.

Rob C

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Re: Request for Landscape Focusing Advice
« Reply #5 on: April 16, 2012, 09:59:02 AM »

Follow the advice of the famous award winning Scottish landscape photographer - Colin Prior - and focus on the most important part of the image and set the aperture to f/11. Don't worry if the edges of your image appear a little soft. Many believe it is impossible to get everything in a landscape sharp, just acceptably sharp.


Stamp, are you suggesting pano film cameras?

Believe me, holding hands with that Mamiya 67 ll the other day was a very emotional experience: film is still more than a little sexy; if you don't believe me, check with WalterEG, whose credentials are more than pretty damned good. Anyway, Prior has to be one of the most accomplished shooters I've ever seen.

Rob C

Ellis Vener

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Re: Request for Landscape Focusing Advice
« Reply #7 on: April 16, 2012, 12:58:38 PM »

How to focus - really focus when shooting landscapes.

Use a tripod every time you have a chance. Failing that a rock or a tree.

Pay attention to the composition and the light. If the light makes everything look dull shoot something else, maybe just a detail that is more suggestive of the place and of the experience of being in it. Also if the light in the scene in front of you is fantastic , turn around and see what it is doing to things in other directions including above you.

Don't settle for always shooting at eye-level, get funky and get down or get it up higher. A change in perspective can make a world of difference.

A backpack, a belt bag, or a shoulder bag full of whatever gear you aren't using at the moment makes for a wonderful ballast bag for a tripod or as a ground pod. Getting the bag off your back  gets you to stop being a human mule too. Tire, stiff muscles make for a tired, stiff  mind.

Bring a close focusing lens.

Don't carry too much stuff - it gets in the way.

About composition: satisfy your eye and mind first, listen to the blah-blah-blah about the rules of composition later. No one sees quite the same way do. Respect that.

You aren't seeing deeply enough or carefully enough or imaginatively enough if you walk away feeling like you got everything.

Practice doesn't make perfect - practice makes better.

Get out earlier and stay up later. But get good sleep too.

Be prepared to initially hate almost everything you shot. Being able fairly judge your work takes time.

What is also true is that a really great shot will announce its presence immediately, sometimes even while you are shooting. Chimp (looking at the camera's on board preview screen) sparingly. Remember that it is officially called a preview screen - it isn't the real deal.

Physically focusing: If your camera has it, use Live view and it's magnify function in conjunction with an LCD covering loupe (I like the 3x Hoodman) to compose and focus with. Use manual focus. Unless all of that takes too long and Somethign amazing is happeninfg in front of you. In which case aperture priority exposure mode is great.

Bracketing exposures brackets your treatment of the subject matter.  Use Exposure as a creative tool. Sometimes makign a scene scorchingly bright or your shadows really dark tells a better story than a technically accurate description of the place and people like stories.

If you do use autofocus and your cameras have the function, use the auto-focus micro-adjustment tool to make sure your camera bodies are tuned to your lenses.

As the man said: focus on what you feel is the most telling feature in the scene. If there are any books set in that locale, read 'em. It will help you develop a feel for the place.

Most importantly: stay loose and have fun; let yourself play.

I know you asked a technically based question but technique is just a tool for sharing  your imagination.
« Last Edit: April 16, 2012, 04:03:35 PM by Ellis Vener »
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Ellis Vener
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new_haven

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Re: Request for Landscape Focusing Advice
« Reply #8 on: April 16, 2012, 01:35:36 PM »

I've found this technique to be very useful.
http://www.optechsdigital.com/Alpa_and_Hyperfocal.html
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Rob C

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Re: Request for Landscape Focusing Advice
« Reply #9 on: April 16, 2012, 05:33:54 PM »

Rob, I don't have any experience with film. I know from reading an article of Colin Priors from a few years ago he was scathing about hyper focal distance and the jargon that surrounds it. What I stated is what his answer was to getting everything sharp....or not.


Colin Prior:

Linhof Technikardan; Fujifilm 6x17. At least, in the RotoVision Landscape book that I bought in Glasgow's Waterstone's some years ago, that's what he's listed as using. I have no idea about today or even if he got so rich he retired! Maybe he discovered digital?

At least he did some cracking assignments for airlines.

Regarding DOF: one of the best bits of advice I ever had on the subject, as a lad, came from a rather raw amateur who had one blinding insight: he said, in effect, DOF doesn't exist - there is only one thin plane critically sharp, so make that the one where your main subject exists. Nothing I've seen since has proved him wrong, movements included, for they just shift that plane around...

Rob C

Slobodan Blagojevic

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Re: Request for Landscape Focusing Advice
« Reply #10 on: April 16, 2012, 06:13:48 PM »

A lot of good advice above, which you will find really handy... a couple of years from now, when you catch up with all the fancy terminology ;)

In the meantime, follow this advice from the patron saint of landscape photographers, Ansel Adams: "There is nothing worse than a sharp image of a fuzzy concept."

Thus, work on your concept first.

P.S. Sharpness is overrated anyway (or shall I say "the last resort of the untalented"?)

Tony Jay

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Re: Request for Landscape Focusing Advice
« Reply #11 on: April 16, 2012, 06:44:10 PM »

I heartily agree with the evolution of information on this thread.
How to focus and maximise depth of field is important but what to focus on, composition, and one's artistic intent - crucial to making a great image.

Ellis is right - a lot of practice is required.
However one ought to have a lot of fun watching one's photography improve.
One never loses the thrill of seeing a creative idea come to life in an image.
As mentioned several times in different ways - work the subject - a single image is never enough.
This is important because the quickest way to learn is to discover what doesn't work.

Enjoy

Tony Jay
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shaner21

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Re: Request for Landscape Focusing Advice
« Reply #12 on: April 16, 2012, 09:48:13 PM »

Thank you so much for the feedback.  It gives me lots to think about. 
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Fine_Art

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Re: Request for Landscape Focusing Advice
« Reply #13 on: April 17, 2012, 03:35:57 AM »

I typically take 2 sets of shots (on APS-C 1.5 factor vs 35mm). A 20mm FL @ around f8, going pano stitch if necessary. Focus is on the foreground.
A 50mm 3 row stitch @f5.6-f8, one row foreground, one row main subject, one row background/sky.
On the Tetons for example I did 6 shots across by 3 high.

I set 2 cameras on 2 tripods to do this in fast changing light.

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ripgriffith

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Re: Request for Landscape Focusing Advice
« Reply #14 on: April 17, 2012, 05:13:41 AM »

How to focus - really focus when shooting landscapes.


Don't settle for always shooting at eye-level, get funky and get down or get it up higher. A change in perspective can make a world of difference...


...Most importantly: stay loose and have fun; let yourself play.



What he says... remember, photography is not a spectator sport!
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Christoph C. Feldhaim

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Re: Request for Landscape Focusing Advice
« Reply #15 on: April 17, 2012, 06:12:06 AM »

... Most importantly: stay loose and have fun; let yourself play...

+1010
Excellent post, Ellis!

JohnBrady

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Re: Request for Landscape Focusing Advice
« Reply #16 on: April 17, 2012, 12:23:00 PM »

I shoot a lot of 8x10 film still, sometimes with landscape there is no main subject to focus on. I use very wide angle lenses which make it pretty easy to get maximum depth of field. I typically focus about 1/3 of the way into my scene and then stop down. With 8x10 and a lens such as the Nikon 120sw I stop down to f45. I do not use a loop but just view the ground glass with my reading glasses. With trees in the scene front tilt isn't an option so this method serves me well.

At $10 a sheet for Fuji Velvia, you take a lot of time planning your composition, light, wind, focus, etc. I shoot digital the same way out of habit.

When shooting digital I typically use Canon Tilt Shift 17 and 24 lenses and focus the same way and stop down to f16.

www.timeandlight.com
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Hening Bettermann

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Re: Request for Landscape Focusing Advice
« Reply #17 on: April 17, 2012, 04:26:44 PM »

 > how do you ensure the image is sharp throughout?

nobody mentions focus stacking??

Tony Jay

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Re: Request for Landscape Focusing Advice
« Reply #18 on: April 17, 2012, 05:38:35 PM »

The man is still trying to find his feet.
Once he is taking some good shots and has learn't the strengths and weaknesses of his equipment then it would be worth his while to start experimenting with focus stacking.
It is not a magic bullet solution so not an automatic choice to solve all depth of field issues.

Apart from potential issues with halo effects etc there is the issue of movement between shots to consider.
The man may not even currently own appropriate software to focus stack.

Hence, I think, the emphasis on "in camera" methodology.

Regards

Tony Jay
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Ellis Vener

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Re: Request for Landscape Focusing Advice
« Reply #19 on: April 17, 2012, 08:06:06 PM »

"The man is still trying to find his feet.
Once he is taking some good shots and has learn't the strengths and weaknesses of his equipment then it would be worth his while to start experimenting with focus stacking.
It is not a magic bullet solution so not an automatic choice to solve all depth of field issues."

I totally agree. The emphasis some people, especially here in the Lu-la forums, put on exotic techniques and tools  is far out of balance with their actual viability in simply making good photos to start with. Focus stacking is really one of those last resort solutions. I'm glad I know how to do it, and have the tools to do it but only turn to when all else fails.
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Ellis Vener
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