AND HOW NOT TO DO IT!
When shooting landscapes manual mode is the way to go.
Screw the camera on the tripod, turn off Image Stabilizer (IS) and Auto Focus (AF). Grab the focus ring and gently turn it to infinity. Now that’s out of the way time to factor in the triumvirate: aperture, shutter speed and ISO.
On a night like this one the aperture was at f/4.5, shutter speed at 6 seconds and ISO at a hundred. Anything wrong with this formula? At first glance nothing but at f/4.5 there will definitely be a part of the photo that is out of focus. On many shooting conditions that would be okay. For landscape, as much as possible everything should be in focus-f/4.5 is a big no-no.
On this night, I didn’t double check and just hit the shutter. That cloud dispensing all that rain was about 8 or 10 kilometers away. With the wind that was hitting me I knew a soaking experience was on the way. 4 frames went without a hitch on the 10 second timer.
Then the rain arrived at my spot and I ran inside. As I checked the result I was in fact surprised at how straight the horizon was-I was in the dark fiddling with the shoot. On instinct I enlarged the shot on the LCD-then the horror hit-much of the shot was out of focus expect the infinity part. Oooopsy! Scratching my head I peaked at the focus meter on the lens and it read infinity-so that’s okay. Then I checked the triumvirate and saw the f/4.5!! WTF-the whole time hitting my head against the wall.
As luck would have it, Manila had another rainy spree last night. This time I made sure aperture was f/8 and shutter was 15″ at ISO 100. Nice if the shot’s focused. If only there was lightning it would’ve been perfect.
Do yourselves a favor and a definite reminder to me, first thing to do is hit the f/stop at 6.3 or smaller (f/6.3, 8, 11, etc). That way with the horizon straight and shutter calculated you won’t be doing a landscape session the wrong way-like I did.
Post script~ camera body doesn’t matter and I used my old kit 17-85mm f/4-5.6 lens for both shots. Just make sure it’s on a sturdy tripod and have fun.