As view camera users, the Old Masters of nature photography were well aware of the Scheimpflug Principle. Today’s D-SLR users can use the principle through the use of a tilt-shift or perspective-control lens.
Scheimpflug describes how to achieve almost infinite depth of field. Essentially, you align the tilt movement such that the plane of the camera (the image sensor or film plane), the subject and the lens plane intersect at a common point. Depth of field will extend from the camera all the way to infinity.
Beyond sharp focus there’s an aesthetic benefit as well. By tilting the lens down, near objects in the foreground will become larger within the frame and have a sense of “looming.” The Old Masters used this aesthetic extensively, and you can give it a try as well.
Use A Tripod!
For a really crisp image, your camera needs to be firmly secured. The smallest movements can cause vibration in an image—even just depressing the shutter can have a drastic effect on sharpness. A cable release, a wireless remote, the shutter-release mode that’s often found on D-SLRs, and image stabilization in lenses or cameras all can compensate for this, and for the absolute sharpest results, you can bet that the Old Masters would have used a combination of these methods.
For the ultimate in sharpness, a good tripod with a versatile and well-constructed head is an absolute must. Modern materials have made tripods light and durable, and vibration-dampening construction has made tripods the most stable ever. Ballheads are ideal tripod heads for landscapes, with rotational positioning and spirit levels for best framing of the scene. A tripod may be extra weight on a long trek, but the results are always worth it.