Why Shooting Landscapes and Nature is Better at f/11 or Less

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Shot at 8mm, f/5.6 on an APS-C camera. The focal point was about 1/3 of the way into the frame at a point about 30 feet from the camera on the green grass where it meets the road.

Almost everything you will read will tell you that to have a great looking landscape shot it has to be sharp from front to back, and you have to shoot at f/16 or f/22 to get that.

Not true.

That is not how it works in the real world with your eyes, and it is not how a camera or lens should be used either. I’ll break this down and destroy this myth. Continue reading

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Back-Button Focusing and Why You Should Use It

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Back-Button Focus

Ever want to be able to switch from shooting a static landscape to shooting action without having to worry about changing focus modes? Want to capture moving objects in crisp focus? Use back-button focusing and you can have it all. Here’s how to set it up. Continue reading

Maximum Lens Sharpness – The “Sweet Spot”

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What is a lens’s “sweet spot?”

Everybody wants sharp and focused photos. You can get good sharpness near to far in a photo by hyperfocal focusing, but what are the limits of sharpness of your lens? At what aperture (f-stop value) will you get the sharpest photos? This is also known as the “sweet spot” of the lens. Here is a simple test you can do to find out where your lens is sharpest. But first, some basic rules…

General Rules for Lenses

The rules are about the same for every lens. Here are the general ones: Continue reading

Choosing a Focus Mode and AF Frame

Focusing Modes Explained

Choosing a focusing mode (also called AF Mode) for your camera can be confusing. Very confusing. It’s not something you’re going to want to be thinking about when you’re ready to shoot, that’s for sure! Here’s a simple explanation for some common focus modes and how I use them. Continue reading

Behind the Shot: Ludington Beach

Ludington Michigan on the West coast of Michigan’s lower peninsula is a beautiful lakeside city. Sitting on the shores of Lake Michigan, it attracts visitors who are eager to get away from the cities and towns, and who are looking to enjoy the lake.  This photo was taken on the beach at Ludington, late in the day.

I got down low for this shot because I really wanted to capture that look and feel of a late summer day on the beach. However, the land and sky were hardly cooperating with me! I made do though and here’s how…

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Unfocus for Composition

When setting up for shooting a scene, evaluating your composition can be tricky with all the elements of the scene popping out at you. Try “unfocusing“. I do not mean to un-focus your camera. This has nothing to do with your camera at this point. I mean “unfocus” your view – through your eyes. Continue reading

Increase Detail With Focus Magic

Focus Magic is a piece of software that sharpens and de-blurs photos in a special way through use of sophisticated algorithms. Besides using it to repair photos that have blur or focus issues, I also sometimes use it as a final-pass item that punches up the sharpness. It’s another of my “secret weapons.” Continue reading

Camera Focusing Modes

I couldn’t write it better…so I won’t. Here’s a link to a great article on focusing modes.

This is one item that has tripped me up more than once. There’s nothing worse than going for a shot and having it ruined by bad focus. More than once I’ve been perplexed by my camera and why it won’t focus on what I want it to focus on!

Focusing Modes | Understanding Autofocus Modes.

via Focusing Modes | Understanding Autofocus Modes.

Realism in a Photo

The sun is bright and when you look toward it, your eyes can’t see any detail in it. It is “blown out” in your eyes. Is this any surprise? No. Shocking information? No. Well then why do we as photographers complain when our photos show the sun as a feature-less blown-out highlight? It is, after all, what you would have seen had you been standing there behind the camera isn’t it? Of course it is.

Let’s say you’re standing in a dark ravine looking up with dark rocky outcroppings all around, but a bright sun shining above. Do your eyes see detail in the shadows? Of course not. Surprising? No. Something wrong with your eyes? No. It’s a high-contrast scene and this is what your actually seeing. So why do we as photographers when we look at the photo later, feel as if we’ve failed somehow because the shadows in our photo are black without much detail. It was, after all, exactly what we saw when we were there.

How well can you see details on the horizon? Are treelines perfectly clear to you? No. What about the haze in the air. Do those distant tress or mountains look perfectly clear? No. Could they be a little out of focus to your eyes? Sure. When we get behind the lens though, we want everything to be sharp and clear – but clearly not how we actually saw it. Why?

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What is your steadiness limit?

Who wants to use a tripod all the time? Sure it gets you blur-free shots, but how awkward carrying the thing around. Some places don’t even let you bring one (certain parks, monuments, busy areas, etc.). But how do you know if you’re going to get blur (camera shake) if you’re hand-holding your camera? You have to know your “steadiness limit.” Here’s how. Continue reading