You can’t con­trol the shoot­ing con­di­tions, but you can take steps to mit­i­gate the ef­fects

Digital Photograper - - Pro Techniques For Sharper Landscapes -

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

above left

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

above right

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

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