Shoot it shal­low

Do land­scapes al­ways have to boast max­i­mum depth of field?

NPhoto - - Special Feature -

Con­sult­ing the rules of com­po­si­tion be­fore tak­ing a pho­to­graph is like con­sult­ing the laws of grav­ity be­fore go­ing for a walk Ed­ward Weston

Depth of field is usu­ally at the fore­front of our minds when set­ting up for a land­scape shot. It’s why we cart heavy tripods up moun­tains and down river beds, as they en­able us to use slower shut­ter speeds and nar­row aper­tures for max­i­mum front-to-back sharp­ness. Some pho­tog­ra­phers will go to the trou­ble of work­ing out the hy­per­fo­cal dis­tance to achieve the great­est area of sharp­ness, while oth­ers will set their fo­cus point one-third of the way into the scene and hope for the best.

The de­fault is of­ten to use an aper­ture of f/16 (any higher can lead to soft­en­ing caused by dif­frac­tion). But ask your­self this: is the max­i­mum depth of field al­ways ab­so­lutely es­sen­tial? A wider aper­ture, and con­se­quently a shal­low depth of field, is a pow­er­ful com­po­si­tional tool, as it al­lows you to fo­cus at­ten­tion on a por­tion of the scene while de-em­pha­sis­ing other ar­eas in front of, or be­hind the point of fo­cus. And as an added bonus, you won’t need to use a tri­pod.

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