Focus Settings for Landscape Photography
Photography revolves around choosing the right focus, figuratively and literally. The creation of an image starts with the photographer choosing a focus setting along with the composition. Similarly, the photographer chooses what to blur. While that seems simple in concept, focus is a topic that could be discussed among a group of photographers for hours upon hours. If you’re making the jump into landscape photography, mastering focus is one of the best places to start.
There are three basic ways to focus with your camera. A common beginner method is to half press the shutter button to focus. The second method is to use back button focusing. Back button focusing is using a button on the back of your camera, such as the AF-ON button, to set the focus. Manual focusing is the third method, where the photographer rotates the focusing ring on the barrel of the camera until the subject is sharp.
Focus modes common to most camera systems include single-shot, continuous, and automatic focus. Single-shot focus (One-shot AF or AF-S) is just that, the camera focuses once when the focusing button is engaged and stays focused on that focal plane. On the other hand, Continuous focus mode (AF-C or Al Servo) is where the camera tracks the subject. Then, it continuously refocuses as the subject moves through the frame. Automatic Autofocus Mode (AI Focus AF or AF-A) is where the camera’s focusing jumps back and forth between single-focus focus and continuous focus mode depending on the situation.
This is just the tip of the focus iceberg. Beyond focus modes, there are a multitude of best practices and techniques to ensure sharp focus. A few examples are focusing depth of field, mirror lockup for DSLRs, timed delay, and focus stacking.
Visual Wilderness team has put together collection of articles about getting focus setting just right for nature photographers.