Having the scene focused front to back is one of the very important aspects of landscape photography. But more often than not, it’s pretty tricky to achieve it. In this video, Mads Peter Iversen shares some very useful tips and techniques for landscape photographers. They will help you get the entire scene in focus and achieve perfect front-to-back focus in every scenario.
As for the focusing mode, Mads almost always uses “single-shot AF” with the Flexible Spot setting. He also sometimes uses manual focus, and it’s an ideal solution if you shoot at night. In some scenarios, it’s not so difficult to get the entire scene in focus. But for example, if you’re in a forest, or your camera is close to the foreground, getting everything perfectly sharp becomes a bit more of a challenge. In these situations, focus peaking helps a lot, but Mads shares some more tips for getting the focus right.
How to get everything in focus
If he’s aiming for a photo with a defined subject, Mads will mainly focus on the subject. But if there’s a landscape scene without the defined subject: he’ll either focus to infinity or 1/3 into the scene.
There are three main factors that determine focus: the f-stop, the focal length, and the distance of the subject and background from your camera. As the first example, Mads takes a photo with a 24mm lens at f/11, with no foreground elements close to the lens. When focusing to infinity, this setting gives a sharp image edge-to-edge and front-to-back. Most lenses have the “sweet spot” between f/8 and f/11, but you can go as high as f/16 to make sure you get everything in focus.
As another example, Mads focuses 1/3 into the scene. That’s approximately where hyperfocal distance is located,and you can get into more technical details about it here. It’s a useful technique for when you use larger aperture such as f/8, but it requires a bit of trial and error if you don’t feel like calculating it precisely.
Now, when the foreground closer to the camera, it gets more difficult to get everything in focus. In some scenarios, it will be enough to simply close down the aperture all the way to f/16. But if the foreground is very close to the lens, even this won’t be enough. In such cases, focus stacking is the best solution, and you can read more on how to do it in this article.
When it comes to the best focusing technique, there’s no universal answer. It all depends on the type of scene you’re photographing, but also your camera settings and position. But there are multiple solutions to cover different shooting scenarios and give you tack sharp images in all of them.