Landscape photography requires students to understand depths of field. This component is what distinguishes amazing shots from lackluster ones. Some photos need only a minimum depth of field; wherein one element in the shot stands out more. However, classic photography tips recommend having extensive depths of field to maintain sharpness and focus.
Before anything, it is essential to clear up a few misconceptions regarding depths of field. Novice photographers believe that this refers to a specific zone in the shot that is sharp throughout its range. Depth of field actually describes the zone of acceptable sharpness in the image. This is because everything in the scene – other than the actual point of focus – is more or less sharp to a certain degree. However, it is the range of acceptable sharpness that needs to be defined. This is the depth of field. A good shot does not have sharp lines indicating the beginning or end of this zone. There is instead a gradual fading in and out of the zone. This does not necessarily have to center on the point of focus.
The rule of thumb with regards to landscape photography is that one-third of the depth of field lies in front of the point of focus; the rest falls behind. The degree and area of this zone are determined by the photography. This is where experimenting with shutter speeds, f-stops, and focal lengths come into play. Photographers have to ask themselves what exactly do they want to communicate with their shot.
A good reminder that is often forgotten is the camera-subject distance. Better landscape shots are made when the distance between the photographer and the subject is adequate. Remember that there is less depth of field when one is closer to the subject compared to when the subject is farther away.