Using simple camera techniques will assure you capture a beautiful, sharp landscape photograph. What’s the point of spending considerable time and effort to travel to a remote site, investing in high-tech cameras, several super-sharp lenses, a stout tripod and countless gadgets then blurring the image through lack of proper shooting techniques? With landscape photography, a few extra moments will ensure you capture an image you’ll enjoy for many years.
It’s an inescapable reality of digital photography that dust will eventually plague your images. Although it’s easy to remove these spots with Photoshop, it is much better to avoid them when the image is created.
To see if you have dust spots, simply attach a relatively long lens to the camera, focus the lens manually to infinity, stop it down to its smallest aperture, then take a shot of a featureless sky. Dust will show on your images as fuzzy spots.
The sensor which records the image is protected by a low-pass filter. This is where the dust accumulates. In-camera cleaning is performed by vibrating this low-pass filter through selecting the Clean Image Sensor option in the Setup menu. The filter can be cleaned at any time using the Clean now option or cleaning can be performed automatically when the camera is turned on or off. If dust cannot be fully removed using the menu based option, it must be cleaned manually.
Techniques for tack sharp images
* Use a solid tripod. Your tripod can be made even more stable against wind gusts by hanging a weighted pouch between the legs.
* Turn off vibration reduction features within the camera or lens. Your tripod will stabilize the camera but the image will be degraded because the VR feature continues to look for vibrations.
* All lenses have a “sweet spot” which produces the sharpest image. This usually is one or two stops from the maximum aperture. So instead of shooting with your lens wide open pull it back a stop or two and you will get a little more clarity. If in doubt, shoot landscapes at f/16.
* If you’re using a zoom lens, don’t use its longest length.
* Smoothly trigger the shutter. Any vibration which takes place just prior to or during the time the shutter is open will degrade the image. Using a cable release, locking up the mirror or using the camera’s built in self timer will help reduce camera vibration.
A cable release or electronic remote will further eliminate shaking the camera at the instant the shutter trips or during long exposures. Most cable releases include a locking feature which keeps the button or plunger depressed during extremely long exposures.
With digital single lens reflex cameras, the image is captured when the mirror flips up out of the light’s path just before the shutter opens then it flips back down after the shutter closes. This causes minute vibrations which can destroy an image’s sharpness. Sharpness can be improved by locking up the mirror prior to taking the exposure. Mirror lock-up involves flipping the mirror up well before the shutter opens, allowing the vibrations to die down before exposing the sensor. This requires an extra push of the shutter button, the second push resulting in the actual opening of the shutter. Use a cable release to eliminate vibrations introduced by your finger pressing the shutter release button.
Your camera’s self timer gives a delay between pressing the shutter release and the shutter’s firing. The self-timer is also used to reduce camera shake when taking photographs in low light or with long (telephoto) lenses. The timer’s delay gives the photographer time to steady the camera before the shutter fires.