4. Set up your camera
The camera settings you need for landscapes are pretty simple. Shoot in Aperture Priority mode so you can control the depth of field while the camera sets the appropriate shutter speed for you. With the aperture set to f/16 for a large depth of field, set the ISO to 100 for the best image quality. With the metering mode set to Evaluative/Matrix, the camera will read light from all areas of the scene to calculate a correct exposure. If required, use exposure compensation to lighten or darken the exposure as necessary.
With settings like these plus the possibility of filters being attached to the lens, there’s a high possibility that the shutter speed will be slow. If you find it drops below 1/125 sec, attach your camera to a tripod and use a remote release to fire the shutter without touching the camera. This combination will help to avoid camera shake – a type of blur in your photos created by tiny camera movements when shooting at slow shutter speeds.
5. Maximise sharpness
Maximising the overall image sharpness and depth of field relies on using both a narrow aperture and the correct focusing technique. Even with a narrow aperture such as f/16, if you focus on the wrong part of the scene, the foreground or background could still be out of focus.
The best way to focus for landscapes is to switch the camera and lens to manual focus, and rotate the lens’ focusing ring to focus on the right part of the frame. You need to identify the position in the scene that’s one third of the distance towards the horizon, and focus roughly at this point. This piece of advice is sometimes confused with focusing one third of the way up the frame, which is incorrect: make sure you’re looking at the depth of the scene.
Once you’ve identified this point, either look through the viewfinder or use Live View on your rear display while slowly rotating the focus ring. When the image looks sharp at the right point, stop and take a shot. Zoom into the image on the LCD screen and check that it’s sharp from the front, all the way to the back of the shot. If it’s sharp in the foreground but not in the background, you’ll need to set the focus further back, and vice versa. Don’t be afraid to keep adjusting the focus until you achieve sharpness throughout the scene.