When photographing a landscape photograph, where should I concentrate my attention?
When photographing a typical landscape, it is common practise to try to keep as much of the scene in focus as possible.
This entails choosing a tiny Aperture (remember, the bigger the value, the smaller the real Aperture) to ensure a large depth of field. This ensures that areas of the image, both close and far away from you, have a reasonable chance of being in focus.
But when should you truly concentrate the image in the shot?
Many digital camera users, I believe, would set the focal point in the centre of the frame – or even near the horizon – but this may not be the best spot to focus your camera.
This is a fairly broad rule that you should disregard if your landscape shot contains a subject of interest that is not on the third line. However, if your landscape shot does not have a single focus of interest, this rule is probably worth following.
My photographer friend then went on to explain a rather complicated reason for focusing on this point a third of the way into an image, which I won’t repeat here for fear of losing many readers – however, in general, if you focus too far into your image, you’ll end up with objects in the distance that are sharp but anything close to you that is noticeably out of focus.
Focusing on the lower third increases the depth of field in the foreground, and because depth of field extends further behind a focal point than in front of it, distant objects will be pretty sharp as well.
Disclaimer – In researching this technique, I discovered a lot of debate on the topic as well as a lot of technical language – in reality, this ‘rule’ depends on many factors such as the focal length of your lens, the format you’re shooting in (vertical or horizontal), the aperture you’re using, and how far the scene extends away from you.
However, I’ve found it to be a good ‘rule’ to know and follow while shooting landscapes. It probably doesn’t matter if you focus exactly on the third way point — the objective is to focus closer to you as the photographer rather than on the horizon.
Perhaps it’s one of those “one percent” principles that won’t make much of a difference for most of us – but when it comes to high-level landscape photography, it’s often the little things that matter!