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Archive 2013 · focusing for landscape photography
  
 
1adam-12
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p.1 #1 · p.1 #1 · focusing for landscape photography


Looking for a little help from you landscape gurus... i am wanting to do some landscape photography on my soon arriving cruise to Alaska.... I am reading the suggested aperture is f16 or f22... I am using a Canon 5dmIII and as i understand, auto focus does not work with aperture greater that f8.... Which means manual focusing... heres my delema... I had Lazik surgery on ONE eye (mono vision) to allow my right eye to see far and my left eye for reading and close up.... and i cannot seem to get the adjustable eye cup viewfinder dialed in to achieve crisp focus when i manually focus.....

so heres my idea / question... If i set my aperture up to say f-4 or f-5.6 and use the auto focus to gain focus for the lens and the 2/3rds point in the shot .... then once i have focus, switch the lens from auto focus to manual focus and NOT make any adjustment... then switch the aperture from f-4 to f-16 or f-22 and then take the shot....

WILL i get crisp in focus depth of field in the finished product with this meathod?

Or does anyone have any other suggestions...

thank in advance....Dave



Jul 04, 2013 at 05:17 AM
stanj
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p.1 #2 · p.1 #2 · focusing for landscape photography


You can still AF with f22. The camera always focuses using the widest possible aperture of the lens, which is not f22. The lens is stopped down when the picture is taken, not during focus.

The issue is though that you don't want to stop down so much as you'd get diffraction. You need a really good reason when you shoot slower than f11. At f11 you get plenty of DOF without getting any diffraction. Also, most lenses have the best IQ around f8-f11.



Jul 04, 2013 at 05:28 AM
Pixel Perfect
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p.1 #3 · p.1 #3 · focusing for landscape photography


1adam-12 wrote:
Looking for a little help from you landscape gurus... i am wanting to do some landscape photography on my soon arriving cruise to Alaska.... I am reading the suggested aperture is f16 or f22... I am using a Canon 5dmIII and as i understand, auto focus does not work with aperture greater that f8.... Which means manual focusing... heres my delema... I had Lazik surgery on ONE eye (mono vision) to allow my right eye to see far and my left eye for reading and close up.... and i cannot seem to get the adjustable eye cup viewfinder dialed in
...Show more


You have some misunderstanding of the Canon AF. All cameras meter and focus with the lens wide open, and it's only at the time the shutter is completely depressed and the shot is taken that the lens stops down. So it doesn't matter what aperture you want to use, say f/22, the camera will AF just fine. What you are getting mixed up with is that if the lens has a maximum aperture smaller than f/5.6 such as a 500 f/4 + 2x TC which is 1000 f/8, the camera's phase detect AF will not operate and then you would need to use manual focus.

So unless you are using an extremely slow lens for your landscape you have nothing to worry about. I think also that if you use live view mode, the camera can use contrast detect AF with lenses with maximum aperture as slow as f/8, but I need to check.



Jul 04, 2013 at 05:29 AM
kevindar
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p.1 #4 · p.1 #4 · focusing for landscape photography


Hi Dave. what lens are you using? you may be misunderstanding things.
1. it is best to shoot between f11 and f16. closer to f11 if you are getting enough dof.
2. As for autofocusing, if the lens is an autofocus lens, then it always focuses wide open, ie an f2.8 focuses at f2.8, even when set to f22. the aperture then closes to 22 when you press the shutter.
3. If you are using a manual focus lens, use live view with 10x magnfication. you can focus 1/3 of the way in to the scene, then stop down to shoot. alternatively look up the parafocal distance for the focal lenght you are using.
4. another option is to do your focusing stopped down, and then check both your near and far field at 10x live view to makes sure you have very good focusing.
Hope that helps.


Edited on Jul 04, 2013 at 05:35 AM · View previous versions



Jul 04, 2013 at 05:30 AM
khalil
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p.1 #5 · p.1 #5 · focusing for landscape photography


Autofocus will work fine for any aperture. I think you're misunderstanding how the autofocus works...


Jul 04, 2013 at 05:31 AM
1adam-12
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p.1 #6 · p.1 #6 · focusing for landscape photography


OK... i guess i was misunderstanding when i read threads about the "new firmware that allows for focusing at f-8" ....

so... if i am understanding correctly, If i am using a Canon 70-20 f/2.8 MKII ... or a 16-35 f/2.8 L ... i having nothing to concern.... I can set my camera up at f/8-f22... use the back button auto focus to compose the shot and then take the picture as i would when shooting sports (other than probably on a tripod)?

I REALLY misunderstood !!!!!

thanks again for the help....Dave



Jul 04, 2013 at 11:29 AM
jimmy462
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p.1 #7 · p.1 #7 · focusing for landscape photography


Hi Dave, etal,

It's a common confusion...better to ask than to not know. Here's a quick video demonstration for the uninitiated...

How to Use Live View to Determine Depth of Field with Digital Cameras - YouTube:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cEM4SlO6KYs

Hope this is helpful!


Jimmy G



Jul 04, 2013 at 12:12 PM
Scott Stoness
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p.1 #8 · p.1 #8 · focusing for landscape photography


1adam-12 wrote:
.

so heres my idea / question... If i set my aperture up to say f-4 or f-5.6 and use the auto focus to gain focus for the lens and the 2/3rds point in the shot .... then once i have focus, switch the lens from auto focus to manual focus and NOT make any adjustment... then switch the aperture from f-4 to f-16 or f-22 and then take the shot....

WILL i get crisp in focus depth of field in the finished product with this meathod?

Or does anyone have any other suggestions...

thank in advance....Dave


Your method will work but is not necessary.

As indicated above - the reference to autofocus only working <=f8 refers to the fstop when the lens is open, not when it is stopped down. Canon cameras focus using the lowest fstop, and then automatically stop down when shooting, to your selected fstop. So it will focus automatically at f22, if the lens's smallest fstop is f8 or less.

So if you don't want to think about settings, just put it f11, autofocus and focus on a far away object, and shoot and you should be good to go, generally.

Alternatively, if you are on a tripod, leave it on autofocus and turn live view on, move the box to where you want to focus that has some contrast, do 10x zoom, press 1/2 down until it blinks green, and take the picture. This achieves the strongest focus without mirror slap vibration.

However,
1) Lens are generally sharpest about 2 stops down from wide open. Eg. f8 on an F4 lens.
2) Defraction starts causing distortion when you go above f8 and really becomes noticable on full frame above f16. On crop (60d etc) the defraction becomes noticable above f11.
3) Which leads me to my own rule of thumb:
A) Focus near infinity or 2/3 into picture. I focus at near infinity to keep the trees sharp on horizon.
B) If there is no close in objects within 20' or so - use f8. Gives you maximum sharpness and large depth.
C) If there is something close in, eg 5', switch to f16 (f11 on crop)
D) If you want a star flare on sun, use f22 (f16 on crop) [ or object really close in]- sacrifice sharpness for sun flare
E) Use live view focused near infinity zoomed in 10x near a contrasty subject
Generally this rule of thumb will give you sharp pictures

Last suggestion - give up the eyes at 2 different settings nonsense if you are really serious about photography. You have to be able to see to take good pictures. And as you get older, it will be even more challenging. Vanity vs Quality

[to be helpful since this post is near the top - Edward Rotberg suggests below that focussing 1/3 into the scene is best rather than infinity or 2/3 that I suggest above. I agree that the charts show this to be true. I like sharper near horizon more than sharper close which takes me to a different rule of thumb. But 1/3 into scene might be a better recommendation for a simple rule than what I have stated above which reflects my preference rather than a strict math depth maximizing preference. This is a long way of saying Edward was right and I was wrong ]


Edited on Jul 11, 2013 at 05:08 AM · View previous versions



Jul 04, 2013 at 01:11 PM
1adam-12
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p.1 #9 · p.1 #9 · focusing for landscape photography


Thanks again for the suggestions and direction.... Without the help on this forum i would be COMPLETELY at a loss... anyways... heres what my intentions are... I am shooting with a 5dmiii, canon 70-200 2.8 MKII, 16-35 2.8 L and a 24-70 2.8 L... My plans are to use the 70-200 while on the ship and shooting ice bergs, glaciers and shoreline shots... then when i am on foot at the different ports and on excursions, using the 16-35 primarily and the 24-70 as needed (although i have no idea what "as needed" will be)... I will also be bringing my tripod with me.... Maybe i might even go WAAAAY out on a limb and try some long exposure night stuff....This will be my first REAL attempt at doing landscapes.. Not looking to win any contests or magazine coverage... My goal is to get some decent shots i can print and hang in my home....

I will post some of the shots i get when i get home....

AGAIN.... THANK YOU for the help !!!! Dave



Jul 04, 2013 at 02:01 PM
Scott Stoness
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p.1 #10 · p.1 #10 · focusing for landscape photography


1adam-12 wrote:
Thanks again for the suggestions and direction.... Without the help on this forum i would be COMPLETELY at a loss... anyways... heres what my intentions are... I am shooting with a 5dmiii, canon 70-200 2.8 MKII, 16-35 2.8 L and a 24-70 2.8 L... My plans are to use the 70-200 while on the ship and shooting ice bergs, glaciers and shoreline shots... then when i am on foot at the different ports and on excursions, using the 16-35 primarily and the 24-70 as needed (although i have no idea what "as needed" will be)... I will also be bringing
...Show more

Dave: I would generally shoot at f8 for icebergs, if shooting handheld, and keep the shutter at about 1/1000 (iso 400 or 800?) to keep the motion blur down. See http://www.dofmaster.com/dofjs.html and experiment. But at 1000' (big iceberg) and f8 and 100mm you would get lots of depth.

Have fun.



Jul 04, 2013 at 02:07 PM
 

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Guari
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p.1 #11 · p.1 #11 · focusing for landscape photography


Hope you have a grand time there!

One thing to have is a graduated square filter if you are not into doing digital blending in photoshop and such. It can really help to tame the contrast of the sky and foreground. There are many makes and options, but a 2 stop soft edge filter can really help. Singh Ray, Lee, hi-tech and Cokin make such filters..




Jul 04, 2013 at 02:11 PM
Hawkan
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p.1 #12 · p.1 #12 · focusing for landscape photography


Also, look into hyperfocal focusing. I often set the camera to the largest possible aperture I can use for a certain scene to avoid diffraction (usually f/8 or thereabouts).


Jul 04, 2013 at 07:11 PM
gdanmitchell
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p.1 #13 · p.1 #13 · focusing for landscape photography


Quick tutorial (incomplete) on some general concepts regarding AF and aperture.

1. As mentioned earlier, no matter what aperture you set the lens to, the auto-focus process is accomplished at the largest aperture. If you set your lens to f/16, when you press the shutter release it focuses at f/2.8 (on your lenses), then closes down the aperture to f/16, makes the exposure, and allows the aperture to quickly return to f/2.8

2. As you can see, there is no reason to go through the steps you described to AF then switch AF off and stop down manually to shoot. In your case, just set the aperture on the lens that you want to use, AF, and shoot.

3. There are a range of factors that go into deciding on the aperture you will select for a given photograph. Certain apertures might be better for isolating a subject against a complex background, others for achieving the best center resolution that the lens is capable of, or for getting the greatest depth of field. Choosing an aperture that optimizes for any one of these can decrease the "performance" of the lens in the other two areas. For example:

a. If you stop down to, say f/16, while objects across a greater range of distances from the camera will be in good focus, you might sacrifice some maximum potential sharpness to accomplish this. Regarding the overall loss in sharpness as you stop down (due to diffraction blur): in general, f/11 will never create a problem on a full frame camera, you are almost certain to NOT (edit - I originally left out the critical word "NOT" at this point!) be able to see a difference in your prints from shooting at f/16, at f/22 you may well see a bit of softness. Here you trade increased depth of field for slightly decreased resolution. (I generally avoid f/22 unless I really need a lot of DOF and I'm willing to sacrifice a bit of sharpness to get it.) To counter one common misconception, stopping down to f/16 does not make your photograph sharper, though it increases the distance range across which subjects will appear to be in acceptable focus.

b. If you select a so-called optimal aperture for center sharpness you will often get fine image quality, though your depth of field (near-far range) will diminish somewhat. To make a generalization, it is often safe to assume that f/8 is likely to be roughly in the optimal focus range for most good lenses on full frame cameras. If you don't have a good reason to shoot at a different aperture, you could make this your default. For example, with your glacier shots, unless you also want something very close to your position to be in focus, there would be little, if any, advantage in the greater depth of field afforded by shooting at f/16.

c. If you select a very large aperture (such as f/2.8 on your zooms) you can create a much narrower band of optimal focus. Objects much further than your main subject and much closer than your main subject will be blurred/out of focus. In general, there can also be a slight decline in the maximum sharpness of objects at the focus point, though this is normally inconsequential. Counterintuitively, putting a lot of the image out of focus can make your primary subject look sharper. For example, photographing something like a flower at a large aperture (f/2.8 on your lenses) can significantly blur objects in the far background, and the flower can appear to stand out sharply against this soft background - making it appear sharper than if it had been photographed at a very small aperture (such as f/16) that rendered more distracting detail in the background. (I refer to this as "subjective sharpness," as differentiated from "objective sharpness.")

4. If you are selecting aperture because you want to "get the sharpest photograph," you can almost certainly let that idea go. Yes, the optimal aperture for your lenses (likely about f/8 in most cases) will produce the highest resolution - but the other apertures can also provide very sharp images. Unless you are shooting with extreme care and regularly producing very large, high quality prints, you are not going to see these difference in your photographs. In general, photographers usually select apertures for reasons other than sharpness - unless using the f/8 default.

Some examples:

1. Glaciers a good distance away - shoot at f/8 in most cases.

2. A landscape with close and far objects - try f/16. (There is a bit more to it than this...)

3. A close up of a subject like a flower that you want to stand out against the background - try f/2.8

Finally, the good news is that it is really easy to learn to understand this just by taking your camera and making a bunch of test exposures at various apertures. You'll soon see, in very practical terms, how aperture will affect your shots.

Dan

Edited on Jul 06, 2013 at 12:24 AM · View previous versions



Jul 04, 2013 at 10:14 PM
3iron
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p.1 #14 · p.1 #14 · focusing for landscape photography


I learned more about LS photography with this thread than the last 3 years.
Great stuff and thank you very much.



Jul 05, 2013 at 12:46 AM
splathrop
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p.1 #15 · p.1 #15 · focusing for landscape photography


I will offer another rule of thumb. If the principal subject of your picture is located between the foreground and the extreme background, and you can't conveniently keep everything sharp, it's often better to favor your foreground and the subject when you focus. A sharp foreground, even a visually irrelevant one, contributes to a perception of a sharp picture. A soft horizon, by contrast, could be caused by atmospheric turbulence, moisture, mist, anything really—so if the horizon isn't your subject, leaving it slightly soft to get the foreground sharp often pays off. Balancing aperture, subject matter, and depth of field is an endlessly fascinating challenge. The best guide to solving problems is to imagine what will seem most plausible to the mind's eye. But the best practice may be to make a series of shots using multiple apertures and choose afterward.


Why wouldn't you get everything sharp? Maybe you prefer to use your lenses at apertures that deliver the best resolution and contrast. Depending on the length of the lens, especially from 100mm up, many scenes will challenge available depth of field. I think you may find that your 70-200 gives you your best image quality using apertures wider than f/11, at almost every focal length. Try it systematically using your tripod and with IS turned off, and see what you think.


Note, too, that if you are shooting distant subjects, wider apertures produce faster shutter speeds, which can be good, because shooting through a lot of air exposes your pictures to atmospheric distortion, which just gets worse the longer the shutter is open. Long exposures off a tripod in low light are especially prone to that effect.



Jul 05, 2013 at 02:39 AM
RobDickinson
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p.1 #16 · p.1 #16 · focusing for landscape photography


+1 for me hyperfocal often results in an image of even softness rather than seeing the foreground subjects as sharp as they nee. d to be.


Jul 05, 2013 at 03:35 AM
vbnut
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p.1 #17 · p.1 #17 · focusing for landscape photography


I just returned (on June 26th) from a 7 day Alaska cruise that sounds similar to what Dave is describing, and boy do I wish I had read this thread before my trip. I took lots of shots with my 7D and 10-22 mm at f/22, along with some shots with my 200 mm and even my 400 mm at similar apertures, and was very disappointed when I started looking at them on my computer as they were quite soft. I wasn't certain what I had done wrong or if I needed to MA the focus on my 10-22, now I have some answers. This thread is going in my "reference collection".

Dave, let me mention a couple things that stood out for me. As spectacular as the glaciers are, the mountain peaks behind them are equally gorgeous, so you may find yourself shooting scenes the foreground a few hundred yards away, and the mountains in the background miles away. You may also find you want to go wide for some of the glacier shots to include that background, depending how close you get to the glaciers. While we watched Margerie Glacier (in Glacier Bay) for an hour or two, we saw at least half a dozen calving incidents. You might find it interesting attempt to capture some video of the calving. Finally, the whale watching excursions we did in Juneau and Skagway were fantastic. We saw two separate pods of humpback whales doing "bubble net fishing" in Auke Bay (Juneau ), lots of humpbacks breaching in both locations. Unfortunately, it was drizzling and raining the day of our Juneau visit, so my photos are pretty gray and low contrast, but despite that it was a wonderful experience.

I wish you the best and look forward to seeing your images.



Jul 05, 2013 at 04:49 AM
TheWengler
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p.1 #18 · p.1 #18 · focusing for landscape photography


I didn't read through the responses, but I'm going to assume the other members have corrected your mistakes and just tell you what I do. First I put the camera into live view. Then I make a ballpark guess at the aperture I need to get everything in focus. Then at 10x viewing, assuming it's light enough, I hold down the DOF preview button and focus on the foreground (start from infinity, move towards closer focusing distances). Then I check the background. If it's also in focus you're good or you can open up the lens some to reduce diffraction. If it's no good I stop down more and try again. This won't work great if you're on a boat, but I'm guessing everything will be at infinity anyway.


Jul 05, 2013 at 05:41 AM
lsquare
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p.1 #19 · p.1 #19 · focusing for landscape photography


Is the difference between f/11 and f/16 that dramatic? I've seen a lot of landscape photography shot at f/16 and in my opinion, it look plenty sharp to me. Will the difference between f/11 and f/16 be noticeable in print? This is assuming a tripod will be used. If there isn't a practical difference in sharpness in print, then I rather shoot in f/16 for the extra DOF.


Jul 05, 2013 at 10:51 AM
PhotoTeacher
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p.1 #20 · p.1 #20 · focusing for landscape photography


You are probably aware, but just a reminder; be sure to check your histogram when shooting large expanses of white to be sure that the camera's meter isn't underexposing it and giving you nice gray icebergs!

Enjoy the trip.



Jul 05, 2013 at 02:38 PM
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