Though landscapes are beautiful and inspiring spaces, there are a few problems that photographers must overcome in order to put their beauty on full display. Exposure can be difficult with areas that are very bright and others that are dark. There might be too many elements in the frame, forcing the photographer to reconsider how to frame the shot as well.
Of course, understanding where to set your focal point can be difficult too. For example, in portraiture, the focal point is usually very simple – the model’s eyes. But in landscape photography, finding that one focal point can be difficult because many times, you’re capturing a broad scene as opposed to a single, strong subject. In that case, how do you know where to set your focus?
We’ve identified four strategies that will help you find your focal point and capture a landscape image that has ideal focus every time.
Avoid Focusing at Infinity
In many cases, most of the elements in a landscape will be a good distance away from you, so setting focus at infinity isn’t a bad idea. After all, using the maximum focusing distance is probably the easiest method of getting most of the shot in sharp focus. This is especially true if you use autofocus, which most of us tend to do.
But what happens when there are foreground elements that are nearer to you, say, within 20 feet or so?
Here’s an easy rule of thumb: dial in your focus at infinity, then roll it back just a hair. Of course, this isn’t a scientific method of setting focus at all, but, with some practice, you’ll get a feel for how much you should dial the focus back with each lens in your kit. As a rule of thumb, a 5-degree turn should suffice
Why this works: Since the depth of field in most landscape images is quite large because of the use of a wide-angle lens, dialing the focus back a bit helps you deepen the depth of field, thus bringing more of the foreground into focus. Importantly, doing so still keeps everything out to infinity in focus, so you are only adding territory in the shot that’s in focus. In the image above, this strategy allowed the photographer to keep both the ripples in the sand in the foreground in focus, as well as the tree and distant sand dunes.