How To Achieve Sharper Images

We have gotten so used to looking at images on television, in newspapers and on smart phones that it’s often a shock to see a truly sharp print at an exhibition. A sharp image can dazzle the eye so unexpectedly that we may feel we’ve never really looked at things that way.

That’s why professional photographers and serious hobbyists devote considerable thought and energy to achieving the sharpest image possible. Here are some things to keep in mind if you want to achieve a sharper image.

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Sand dune - White Sands National Monument, New Mexico
Receding lines, using a very small aperture of f/22 plus converting the image into black & white give this image a sense of sharpness and great depth. Shot with a Fujifilm XT-1 with 10-20mm Fujinon lens.


Stan Hywet Garden in Akron, Ohio
Sharpness is created with a very small aperture of f/22 and the lines of the pathway. Shot with a Hasselblad with a normal 80mm lens at f/22.


Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge, New Mexico
I spotted this meadowlark as we were driving so we stopped the car to assess the situation. (Stopping the car always helps.)To get maximum sharpness in this image, I locked my long Nikkor 28-300mm telephoto lens between my driver’s side window and the car frame to minimize camera shake and I focused very carefully. Luckily, the bird was a very cooperative subject and didn’t move. I didn’t want the background sharp so I used f/5.6 with my lens at 300mm.


Trinidad, Cuba
Receding lines. V shapes on path and on wall (left). Fast shutter speed (1/500sec.) to freeze workman’s motion gives this image sharpness and appearance of great depth. Fujifilm XT-1 with 18-55mm Fufinon lens set at f/11.


Death Valley National Park, CA
I stopped the car, framed the shot through the car window and used the curve in the road to lead into the frame. The multiple colors and the receding rounded hills have the appearance great sharpness and depth. Nikon D800 with 24-70mm lens at f/16.


Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge, New Mexico
Creating a high contrast of light and dark gives the image clarity and depth. The slight diagonal line running from right to left help create a better sense of depth. I focused on the point 1/3 into frame from right and used a tiny aperture of f.22 to give this image clarity and drama. Nikon D800E with 28-300mm Nikkor lens.


South India
Insisting that the subject not move was critical. The subject wasn’t sure where to look so I asked him to look directly into my eye. I waited patiently for the “right” expression on his face, using the time to focus accurately on the subject’s eye. A small aperture of f/11 and the warm background helped keep the subject’s white stubble and mustache sharp.Nikon D800E with 24-70mm lens.


Bosque del Apache National Wildlife refuge, New Mexico
Again, I stopped the car — feeling lucky to be at the right place at the right time. However, having my camera ready and close by and set on burst mode with a super fast shutter speed (1000/sec.) was not luck but good planning. Nikon D800E with a 28-300mm Nikkor lens set at f/5.


White Sands National Monument
Mindfulness and photographic seeing were necessary to craft this composition. Optical deception, large and small wiggly receding lines plus the decision to convert into a moderately contrasty b&W was helpful. Including photographer on right was brilliant. Hand held. Shot with a Fujifilm Xt-1 with 10-20mm Fujinon lens at f/22.


Antelope Canyon, Page, Arizona
Making sure I did not get too close to the wall of this slot canyon was important. If I got too close to the wall and focused on the front part of the wall I would not have enough depth of field to get the background sharp. The receding curved lines on right and left of frame and the lightening of the image on both the right and left side helped me create a decent composition. Camera on tripod. Shot with Fujifilm XT-1 with 10-20mm Fufinon lens at f/22.