How Can I Take Super Sharp Landscape Photos?


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Did you know that if you focus on something in your landscape scene that's too close to your camera, you may not be able to keep the mountains that are far away from you sharp and clear? That's right. This subject has to do with what's referred to as hyperfocus and it's sort of a complicated area to understand. Well, it's not really that complicated if it's explained the right way.

I think I'll try to tell you how this concept works by giving you a few examples. These will be completely made up, so don't hold me to the figures I'll throw out below.

Let's say you've got a Canon Rebel T6i camera with a 24mm prime lens attached to it. You've got the aperture set to f/8. You're standing on top of a mountain and there are a few trees with branches hanging down right in front of you. You'd like to frame the mountains in the distance with the leaves and branches of these trees. You also want everything in your shot to be in focus, including the branches and leaves that are close as well as the mountains in the distance.

Okay, so that's the setup. The question is, how can you keep everything in your scene sharp like you want? Is there something you need to consider and keep in mind? Yes, there is. This is very important. The sharpness of those mountains all the way in the distance depends completely on how far you're standing from the branches and leaves that are close to you. As you may have guessed, you'll probably focus on those close-up leaves first, just to make sure they're sharp. Then, you'll leave it to the camera to make sure the mountains are sharp too. The only problem with this is that you can see the clarity of those leaves fairly clearly through your camera's viewfinder. It's not as easy to see if the mountains are in focus as well.

As I said above, the ability to keep both the leaves and the mountains in focus depends on the distance between the camera and the leaves. If you stand too close to the leaves and focus on them, you'll reduce the distance at which your lens can focus. If you stand farther away from the leaves, you'll give your lens the ability to focus on infinity. The trick is to find out the minimum distance at which you can stand from the leaves and still keep the mountains in the background sharp. This is called the hyperfocal distance.

I think I'm doing well at explaining this. If you have any questions, please ask down below and I'll do my best at clearing things up.

Anyway, now that we know about hyperfocal distance, the question is, how can we determine this distance? The answer to this is this; there are tons of resources available to offer the distance, depending on your camera setup, aperture setting and a few other things. I'm trying to keep things simple here, so I won't get into all of that. If you really want to read up on this, you can read this much more in-depth article. For now, take a look at this handy chart:


Chart courtesy of Amateur Photographer.

If you take a look at the chart above, you can see that the distance you stand from the leaves by analyzing a few things. These things would be the aperture setting of your lens and the focal length of the lens. So if I take a look at the top chart because I'm using a T6i, which has a cropped sensor, I'll see that, with an aperture setting of f/8 and a focal length of 24mm, I'll need to stand at least 12.6 feet away from the leaves to be sure that both them as well as the mountains are in focus. Pretty easy, right? I think the toughest part of all this is getting your brain to understand that these calculations need to be made in the first place. Once that happens, it's all a snap.

Again, please let me know if you have any questions about any of this. I'd love to help. Remember, this is how the pros take incredibly sharp and clear landscape photos. Follow in their footsteps and do the same. Good luck!