OVERCOME LOCATION CHALLENGES
You can’t control the shooting conditions, but you can take steps to mitigate the effects
Each location and viewpoint presents its own challenges when it comes to achieving sharp images. Landscape photographers also frequently find themselves battling the weather and lighting conditions, which can have a negative impact on sharpness.
Anywhere that requires a long walk can be a challenge, especially if you have to carry lots of heavy equipment with you. The temptation might be to save weight by leaving your tripod behind. This would be a mistake, however, as hand-holding, even in good lighting, just doesn’t work for most landscape images
– you will almost certainly find yourself compromising by shooting at a higher ISO or wider aperture than is desirable.
In fact, it’s perfectly possible to get a tripod and head combination that is both light enough to carry comfortably for long distances and also sturdy enough for quite challenging conditions. There are carbon fibre tripods available that weigh less than one and a half kilos while being able to support a load of 16kg, and ball heads which weigh less than half a kilo with a maximum load of 20 kilos or so – a very portable yet stable combination.
As well as distance, specific locations can present many difficulties that affect sharpness: uneven ground on hills, soft ground on beaches and muddy paths, slippery surfaces and vibrations (for example, people walking over decking). Different weather conditions also throw up a number of problems. High wind is the most obviously difficult as this can cause vibrations that can severely soften images; it can also cause movement and therefore blur key parts of the scene, such as foliage or flowers.
On the coast, sea spray is probably the biggest enemy of sharpness as it coats the lens or filter, diffusing light and smearing details; it also increases the risk of lens flare in certain lighting conditions.
As these marginal conditions can often result in the most dramatic images, it’s not simply a matter of avoiding them, but rather developing techniques that will help you overcome the problems.
WOODEN PIER these are difficult subjects as the structure can shake in high winds and rough seas, and people walking past can also cause vibrations
COASTAL CLIFF TOPS coastal cliff tops often have dramatic views, but are challenging locations as they are exposed to wind and prone to sea spray, even high up
TREES AND FLOWERS foliage is one of the most difficult subjects to capture sharply as even the slightest breeze can move your subject, resulting in motion blur