Bite Size Tips: The Three Keys To Getting A Sharp Landscape Image


As with any genre of photography, the most common problem that haunts many landscape photographers is how to get sharp images. With some really basic techniques, getting a sharp image is quite simple. The fundamentals to a sharp image are avoiding movement, having sharp focus and choosing the correct aperture.

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Three Keys For a Sharp Landscape Image

1. Avoid any camera movement: In order to achieve this, you need to have your camera on a sturdy tripod. Use the mirror lockup feature if you are using a DSLR, to avoid shake/vibration due to mirror moving out of the way when you release the shutter. Use a cable shutter release, so that you do not have to touch the camera when pressing the shutter.

2. Sharp focus: To achieve sharp focus, remove any unwanted filters that may be on the lens. Turn off vibration reduction/image stabilization when the camera is on the tripod. Use manual focus preferably on live view mode so you can zoom in to get the focus exactly where and how you need it. A general rule is to focus at the one-third point into the scene to achieve maximum sharpness.

Note: If you are using a circular polarising filter, make sure that you check focus after the polarizer has been rotated to the desired position. If you wear glasses, make sure that you wear them when focusing. Check that your diopter is set up correctly.

3. Choosing the right aperture: A narrow aperture is the way to go if you need a sharp landscape image. Every lens has a sweet spot where the image is sharp and that varies for each lens (google to find the one for your lens). Generally, it should lie somewhere between f/8 and f/11. Use your lens' sweet spot to get a sharp image. Do not have any objects in the immediate foreground, but have them around 30 feet away from the camera, to have everything in the frame in sharp focus.

Now, sharp focus is obviously a must for landscape photography, but if you want to deep dive into all of the elements of a landscape photograph that you can be proud of, then you should take a look at the far more comprehensive Landscape Photography Guide by Kent Dufault over at Photzy. It will take you well beyond the basics we can explain in a blog post.

About Author

Dahlia is a stock photographer and full time educator at Light Stalking. You can find her on Gurushots and see some of her more popular articles at The American Society of Media Photographers. Get to know her better here.

Shouldn’t you have light coming from the same direction? The picture you used as an example looks very weird in the fact that the sun is setting in the distance yet still casting shadows as it was from the picture’s left and behind.

Hi John, sorry about that. Yes, you are right about the weird lighting and I should have checked twice before posting. Thank you for picking that up. I will replace the image with another one now.
Thank you again!

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