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DSLR Tips Workshop: How to photograph landscapes with lots in focus

Landscape photos can often benefit with something in the foreground like a tree or a fence, but the problem is making sure it’s all in focus. In the photo below left, using the camera’s automatic settings, the background is sharp, but the grassy ledge in the foreground is blurred. In the photo below right though, I’ve adjusted the camera’s ‘aperture’ setting to increase the range of distances in sharp focus.

In my video tutorial below, we’ll explain how to achieve this effect, and at the bottom of the page you’ll find a reminder of the steps you’ll need to take.


Checklist: How to take landscapes with lots in focus

1: Switch your camera to Aperture Priority mode by turning the mode dial to ‘A’ or on Canon models, ‘Av’.

2: Zoom your lens out to its wide angle setting – this will help maximise the amount in focus.

3: Choose a larger f-number to increase the range of distances in sharp focus. Try f16 as a starter.

4: Check your photo. If there’s still not enough in focus, try increasing the f-number to, say, f22.

5: After taking your photo, remember to set the mode dial back to Auto or Program mode.

Watch out!

As you increase the f-number, less light gets into your camera, which in turn means you’ll need a much slower exposure to compensate. Your camera works this out for you in Aperture Priority mode, but you’ll still need to watch out for camera shake. So always hold your camera very steady when using big f-numbers.

Tripods can provide a steady base, or alternatively cameras and lenses with anti-shake facilities can greatly help here – see below. If you are using a tripod, remember pressing the shutter release button can still wobble your shot. So always take the photo using a shutter release cable or the self-timer to avoid all chance of shake.

Equipment tip

The simplest way to avoid camera shake is to use a tripod. Manfrotto models are widely regarded as the best around and allow you to separately buy the legs and the head unit. A great starter combination are the Manfrotto 190 or 055 legs with a 460MG head unit; see my Manfrotto 190XPROB review and Manfrotto 055XPROB review. If you’d prefer to travel lighter, consider a Joby Gorillapod who’s flexible legs can be wrapped around almost anything from a railing to a branch for a steady grip.

Anti-shake facilities are now being built into many DSLRs and lenses. These allow you to handhold much slower exposures than normal, although for the longest you’ll still need a tripod.

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