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Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Big Landscapes & Intimate Details


The towering peaks and abstract close-ups of Colorado photographer Tad Bowman

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This Article Features Photo Zoom
But the whole point of the photographic process for Bowman is to be able to share all of the experiences he has had with nature and what he has seen there on his sojourns. He considers his work and his landscapes to be very personal, and after he has finished a project or print, he most often finds himself admiring the captured "memory" more often than the technical accomplishments of the composition.

"I'm not looking at it to say, 'Wow, I'm really happy with how I captured that image,' as much as I was there and that's just what I was thinking at that time and this is what that experience meant to me," concludes Bowman. "Those are the memories to me that I hold, that these images provide me...those sentimental moments."

You can see more of Tad Bowman's photography by visiting his website at www.tadbowman.com.

Diffraction Limits
Why it's so difficult to produce a sharp landscape from foreground through background

When working with landscapes, it can be very hard to maintain sharpness from the foreground through to the background, especially as diffraction, which further reduces sharpness, will come into play when using closed-down apertures like ƒ/16 or ƒ/22 to achieve the most depth of field. The hyperfocal distance is the maximum amount of achievable depth of field. It starts prior to the point of focus in an image and extends toward infinity, which means that anything in the background will be out of focus if you place the point of focus too close to the foreground.

To avoid the effects of diffraction at smaller apertures (large numbers), stick to the "sweet spot" apertures from ƒ/8 to ƒ/11, or two to three stops down from wide open, depending on the lens. But, remember, diffraction effects are minimal when compared to other blur-inducing handicaps like slow shutter speeds or handheld shooting, and even vibrations from the shutter. For these reasons, tripods and cable releases or timed shutters can be just as important as quality optics.

Hyperfocal distance varies by lens focal length, aperture and the circle of confusion, which depends on sensor size. (This is why you can achieve shallower depth of field with a larger sensor like full frame over smaller ones like APS-C.) For those unfamiliar with hyperfocal distance, the loose rule is that you should focus at a point roughly a third of the distance into the composition, as sharpness will extend from that point to the background. This is by no means correct for every image, though. It's best to learn and practice hyperfocal charts or to use depth of field calculators for achieving the best sharpness.

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