What Aperture is “best” for scenics and landscapes?

Posted December 4th, 2009 by   |  Photography, Travel  |  Permalink
Here's a landscape image that was taken at f/2.8. My goal was to show the foot bridge in relation to the overall garden. F/2.8 allows the bridge to be visually separated from the background. Nikon D700, Nikon 14-24mm, handheld.

Here's a landscape image that was taken at f/2.8. My goal was to show the foot bridge in relation to the overall garden. F/2.8 allows the bridge to be visually separated from the background. Nikon D700, Nikon 14-24mm, handheld.

I’ve had a lot of questions over the last couple of months regarding the “best” aperture to use for scenics and landscapes.┬áTradition holds that you should use the smallest lens aperture for your scenic and landscape photos. The purpose of using small apertures like f/22 is to maximize your depth. In other words, you want everything from the foreground to the background to appear in sharp focus.

However, there is one important thing to remember about your lens. They are sharpest (i.e. resolve the most information) between an aperture of about f/8 to f/11. When you use smaller apertures such as f/22 or f/32, then the image quality of your lens tends to degrade ever so slightly due to light diffraction. It isn’t a huge amount of degradation, but sometimes it can be enough to make you think twice.

So, what’s a photographer who wants the highest image quality to do? Some photographers say that the depth of field you lose at f/11 is not such a big deal because the sharpness you lose from diffraction at f/22 is worse.┬áMy recommendation and my general practice is to shoot landscapes between f/11 and f/16 as a way to get the best of both worlds. Good depth of field with minimal diffraction.

However, try experimenting with other apertures as well. For every rule, there is a photo that shows how/why it can be broken. Take the above photo for example. I shot it at f2.8 with the purpose of bringing more attention to the small foot bridge in the foreground. Although the “best” or “sharpest” image would have been made at f/11 – f/16, I think f2.8 brings a different dimension to the image.





Chameleon in Paradise

Posted November 22nd, 2009 by   |  Photography, Travel  |  Permalink
IChameleon at Kepaniwai County Park. Nikon D700. 70-200mm f2.8. Kenko extension tube. Handheld.

Chameleon at Kepaniwai County Park. Nikon D700. 70-200mm f2.8. Kenko extension tube. Handheld.

It isn’t quite the right title for a new Jimmy Buffet song, but the title “Chameleon in Paradise” will do for this post. I was taking photos of pretty Plumeria flowers (below) yesterday in Kepaniwai Park on Maui and found this little guy sauntering across the landscape. He wasn’t moving very fast, so I was able to lay down on my belly in the dirt to get some eye level photographs. This also helped me move the background farther away from the chameleon for a nice soft backdrop. I used my Nikon 70-200 f2.8 to also enhance the narrow depth of field.

Plumeria flowers. Kepaniwai County Park. Maui Hawaii. Nikon D700, 24-70mm f2.8, handheld.

Plumeria flowers on lava rocks. Kepaniwai County Park. Maui Hawaii. Nikon D700, 24-70mm f2.8, handheld.





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