Landscape Photographer Explains Diffraction and Sharp Photo Tips

In today’s featured video, Gavin Hardcastle is here to share a technique with you to capture sharp images. He explains that this technique is not about sharpening your images in post-production, but about capturing the sharpest image possible in-camera:

The most commonly asked question he has received in the last 10 to 13 years is about getting sharp images and he is here to show that it is just a matter of technique, which can be learned by doing the right things.

Diffraction is a physical phenomenon that occurs when waves, such as light or sound waves, encounter an obstacle or a gap, causing the wavefront to bend, spread out and interfere with itself. This results in a recognizable pattern of light and dark bands or fringes. It occurs because the wavefront is not a smooth, continuous curve, but is made up of many individual wavelets that overlap and interact with each other as they pass through the obstacle or gap.

In photography, diffraction is the bending of light waves as they pass through an aperture. Diffraction affects the sharpness of an image by causing the light waves to spread out, leading to a loss of detail.

According to Hardcastle, diffraction becomes a visible problem in images when the aperture is stopped down to the extreme ends of its range, leading to a loss of overall sharpness and resolution. He explains that while diffraction may not be a concern for photographers who exclusively post their images on platforms like Instagram, it is still recommended to shoot high-quality images that are sharp, as you never know when a client may request high-resolution images for print.

landscape diffraction

Hardcastle explains that diffraction is not restricted to just a single aperture and occurs at all apertures, though it becomes more extreme as the aperture is stopped down to a smaller size. He also mentions that as a landscape photographer, he typically aims to avoid diffraction.

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