Proper focusing techniques are essential for all types of photography, whether you’re shooting indoors or outside. This is particular true with travel and nature images that include a variety of elements from near to far. Do things right and you’ve captured a winning shot—otherwise it’s just another missed opportunity.
Sometimes a landscape scene calls for precise selective focus, drawing a viewer’s eye to the most important portion of the frame. Other times, what you really want is pin-sharp focus from foreground to background. “Impossible,” you say? Read on.
In this tutorial from British pro Nigel Danson, you’ll see how he manages to make images that are incredibly sharp from near to far, by knowing where to set his focus point, using depth-of-field techniques, and focus stacking when necessary. He also lists his favorite lenses for this type of work in the description beneath the video.
Danson reveals his techniques in the behind-the-scenes video, while chasing volcanoes on a chilly day in Iceland. And he takes you right up to the rim of a volcano for an extra-special panoramic view of the landscape below.
The tutorial begins with what he calls “the elephant in the room”—namely, the concept of “hyperfocal distance.” Many landscape photographers concentrate on hyperfocal distance when composing a scene, but Danson explains why he prefers to think in terms of depth of field instead. As you’ll see, there’s a subtle difference that’s important to consider.
While watching Danson demonstrate several other focusing concepts, you’ll also pick up some great advice on composition and exposure. After you’re done, head over to his YouTube channel where you’ll find more great advice on outdoor photography.
And be sure to watch a tutorial we posted recently from another top pro, with more great tips for better travel and landscape photographs.