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Focus Stacking

Author: Carl Heaton
He is our senior instructor and originally from Manchester UK. Carl teaches our Web Design and Online Marketing Courses.
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You may want to take a picture of small object and capture all details of that subject in another word you want to have super sharp picture without any blurred section. But you may find it difficult to achieve the desired photo. In this blog post I introduce you a technique for the mentioned problem and you will learn how to get a close up photograph sharply.

Photo Stacking

You may want to take a picture of small object and capture all details of that subject in another word you want to have super sharp picture without any blurred section. But you may find it difficult to achieve the desired photo. In this blog post I introduce you a technique for the mentioned problem and you will learn how to get a close up photograph sharply.

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Depth of Field (DOF)

Depth of field is the range of distance that appears sharp in photograph. Therefore we use two terms in photography; shallow depth of field and deep depth of field. DOF can be controlled by aperture (F number) on your camera. For shallow depth of field, you should set your camera on larger aperture (smaller F-stop) like f2.8 then the subject will be sharp (in focus) while the rest of the photo will be blurred (out of focus). Unlike shallow depth of field, deep depth of field requires smaller aperture (larger F-stop) like f10 and higher. This is general rule about DOF. However you may want take a close up shot of an object or flower sharply. If you set your camera’s aperture on F10 an higher you still won’t be able to have a sharp shot.

 

Focus Stacking

Focus stacking is a photography technique for creating a sharp close up photograph (deep depth of field). This photography technique is suitable for macro and landscape photography. A good example is jewelry and product photography when everything must be sharp and you need to show every single detail in your photo. In focus stacking we can create a great deep depth of field by combining several photographs that has been taken in different depth of field. Does it sound difficult?  After reading this blog and a bit practicing you will find this technique pretty simple. Now follow these steps and get your desired image.

 

Step 1- Shooting the images

First set your composition. I put some peanuts on a piece of paper. Please remember that you need tripod to avoid camera shaking. Mount your camera on tripod. Set your camera on manual mode, manual focus and timer. I recommend you to set your camera on live view mode in order to achieve a better result. On live view mode you can move the square that appears on your camera screen and change the focus.

Now we need to shoot a series of images. I can’t tell you exactly how many shots you need because it depends on your lens, camera and your subject. Choose the nearest point of the object and manually focus your lens on that section and take a picture. Then select and refocus your lens on another section on top of the previous shot and take a picture. You should continue shooting until you are sure that you have been covered all sections. Here are the shots that I took.

Focus Stacking Sample shots

 

Step 2- Creating the final image in Adobe Photoshop

I have shot my photos in camera Raw format. Now I have to open them in Adobe Photoshop Camera Raw for some basic retouching. Lunch Adobe Photoshop, go to File and Open. Find your photos folder, hold shift and select all your shots and open them as Raw format.

All the photos will be open in Adobe Camera Raw window, click on one of the photos adjust white balance, reduce noise and adjust colors.

Focus Stacking img1

 

When you are done your retouching with that photo, you need to apply that adjustment to all photographs. Hold shift and select all the photos on right panel and click Synchronize button.

Focus Stacking img2

 

And click Open. All the images will be open in separate Photoshop files (you can also click Done instead of open, if you don’t want to open all images in different layers).

 

Now it’s time to open all retouched images in one Adobe Photoshop file in different layers.

Go to File and select Scripts and click on Load Files into Stack.

 

Focus Stacking img3

 

 

 

A window appears and you need to browse and select your images on your hard drive. Please tick this box: Attempt to Automatically Align Source Images and click ok.

 Focus Stacking img4

By holding shift, select all the layers. Go to Edit and select Auto-Blend Layers.

 

Focus Stacking img6

The Auto-Blend Layer window opens. Please select Stock Images and click OK.

 

 Focus Stacking img7

 

All the images will blend perfectly by the masks that Photoshop adds to each layer.

 Focus Stacking img8

The last thing to do is to merge the layers. Hold shift and select all layers. Go to Layers an click on Flatten Image.

Focus Stacking img9

You can adjust color more and then save it. This is the final image:

 

 Focus Stacking img10

It’s all you need to do. Have fun!

 

Please don’t forget to check Web Courses Bangkok website and the variety classes that we have on offer. We will be glad to share our knowledge in a friendly environment with you. Stay with us and check our next blog post.

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