Laura Macky Photography

Journey of a body on this earth

Expanding Horizons – Hyperfocal Distance


Lately I’ve been concentrating on composing my pictures with some depth.  It’s nice to see a sweeping landscape but images have a lot more impact when your eye is made to wander over the image.  Here I wanted the viewer to see those beautiful ferns and then to look out at the beach, the Sutro Baths ruins, the rock and finally the sunset.

This focusing technique to ensure the entire image, back to front, is within an acceptable sharpness is called a hyperfocal distance.   For this image I focused 2.7′ out because I had an aperture of f/22 and I was at a focal length of 24mm on my 16-35mm lens.  How did I know this?  Well, there is a long and a short explanation.  I’m going the route of the short explanation. 🙂

There is a very succinct webpage that has a chart where you can enter your aperture and focal length so you can find out how far out to focus to ensure an acceptable sharpness back to front.  The interactive chart can be found here.  If you scroll down you can see the chart which supports both feet and meters.  You just enter the format of your camera in the box above the chart, select feet or meters, and then find your aperture and focal length.  You’ll see there if you enter my data for this image, which is a 35mm full frame camera, f/22 and 24mm, that the table says I should focus 2.7′.

I included a screen shot of my result.  (Note that the narrower your aperture and the wider your focal length, the closer you will focus to the front of your image.)

I hope this helps you achieve sharper images!

Hyperfocal Distance @ Sutro Baths

Hyperfocal Distance @ Sutro Baths


Hyperfocal Distance Sample for this Image

Hyperfocal Distance Sample for this Image




Author: lauramacky

Journey of a Body on this Earth

50 thoughts on “Expanding Horizons – Hyperfocal Distance

  1. Thank you for the information.

  2. So beautiful! I think you mastered the DOF on this one, Laura. And I love the green foreground. Everything works together 😊.

  3. I love the concept of hyperlocal distance I have used it for some time

  4. I love sharpness! If you don’t have access to the web or a chart when shooting scenes like this, live view really helps. Also, one trick, when you just can’t get absolutely 100% of everything in focus is to leave the background a little soft. Much of the time you can fix this in post and even if that isn’t 100%, the eye will tend to “forgive” a little background softness.

    • Oh me too. I’m really into it these days lol. Not all shots require that but I find that I’m liking them sharp. But not overly sharp. Seems there is a fine line. I’ve also used the 1/3 out rule when I’m shooting with my 300mm zoom. There’s definitely an acceptable level of sharpness which means that some things are not quite sharp like the background as you mention. It’s amazing what you can sharpen in PP. Thanks so much Rich for geeking out with me. 🙂

  5. Useful info and a useful resource.
    I have a nice little app on my android phone, called Hyperfocal Pro. This gives me a neat diagram with near and far focal distances as well as a similar table.

  6. Great image, Laura. The illumination of the green ferns makes it extra special.

  7. Remarkable shot! Thank your for the info, I need to pay good attention to focus! 🙂

  8. Your technical knowledge boggles my brain, Laura. Gorgeous shot!! I do the same thing when I do landscape looking for layers or textures to bring in depth to my image. As for being this exact, my brain doesn’t work like that. I just wing it. I go with my gut instinct and take several shots changing the focal point or the framing with each shot. I know it when I see it and that is how I get my image. If I thought like you, my brain would be in knots. hehehehehehe ❤

  9. As always a great photograph. Besides my love for B&W I loved to work with depth of field, but my results were not on a par with yours.

    • Hi there Pete 🙂 I’m trying to work on this lately. Especially with the wide angles because they lend themselves to that kind of composition. I wish I could see your pictures! Thanks for your comment as always. 🙂

  10. I’m going to try this on my next venture. Thanks so much for the information

  11. Awesome post Laura and fantastic image.

  12. Ah, great image and very interesting post. I normally use my workaround: 2 images – one focused on foreground, one on the background and merge them in PS. I have to try that one in the next days, Laura. Thanks for sharing.

    • I do that too sometimes if I’m using a longer focal length lens. It doesn’t usually work as well with a long lens if you’re trying to get that in your face (so to speak) foreground like the ferns. Just fyi! I’m glad you liked the image. 🙂

  13. Thank you very much for the link to the chart 😀😀

  14. Thanks for the information. I forget about it sometimes. Also thanks for the chart

  15. it was so much easier when lenses had that information on them, you could just pick your minimum distance and see what the maximum was at any full f-stop. I used to shoot that way all the time, now I just shoot wide and don’t worry as I never remember those numbers. A really great photo Laura. 🙂 Now that I am back to healthy (knocking on wood) and have tethered internet at home, I’ll be able to keep up better.

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