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Where to FOCUS in Landscape Photography?

In landscape photography there is not always a clear subject in front of a background. So where to focus to get out razor sharp photographs?


#1 Which area do we want to get sharp in our composition?

In other genres of photography this question is easy to answer, because the sharpest area in our composition is usually our subject. But in landscape photography it gets a bit more complicate: There is not always a clear subject in front of a background, as it were given in a figure/ground association.

In landscape photography we usually want to get a high depth of field, to get everything pin sharp in our composition, what has a primary origin.


#2 How is the Focus Layer spreaded?

When we open our aperture and focus on any point in our composition, there is a focus layer which reachs from a bit before to a bit behind the focus point. 1/3 of the focus layer is in front of the focus point, 2/3 of the focus layer is behind the focus point.

This is, why I thought, when I focus 1/3 into the scene, I would maximize my depth of field, because then my focus layer reachs from the focus point 1/3 to my foreground and 2/3 to the distance.

But I ruined so many photographs with this methode, because either the foreground got blurry or the distance mountains got blurry or both of them got blurry :)


#3 Focussing over Hyper Focal Distance

With the time I stumbled over something that is called "Hyper Focal Distance" and it is super simple: Jut define the first point in your composition you want to get sharp and double the distance - this is the hyper focal distance. If we focus to the hyper focal distance, we get everything acceptable sharp from the half distance of the hyper focal distance to the distance.

But it leads only into acceptable sharpness. It is okay for most cases, but to be honest: It is too complicated for me and it takes me too long to go into setup.


#4 Micro Unsharpness

What I found out is, this contrast between sharpness and unsharpness, how we know it from other genres of photography also works with a tiny bit of softness. This is what I call "micro unsharpness".

When I get a tiny bit of softness at my foreground, I support the eyes to lead into the image. This is why I use distance focussing in most cases.


#5 Distance Focussing

To achieve a tiny bit of softness in the foreground and to get pin sharp distance layers, I choose the furtherst point in my composition as my focus point, so that the 1/3 in front of the focus point reachs to my foreground.

This maximizes my depth of field, I get razor sharp photographs and I get a subtle micro unsharpness on my foreground to support the viewer's eyes get lead into the frame.

There are a couple of exceptions and much more details about focussing, to get each photo pin sharp - all the time. Watch the video to find out more.


Check out my gear, which I use for my landscape photography:

My Landscape Photography Gear


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Landscape Photographer & Photography Artist

Generations after Gustav Klimt

"Reality is boring, there exists already enough outside of my images."

Christian Irmler - great-great grandnephew of Gustav Klimt (6th degree)


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