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Author Topic: FOCUS STACKING Tutorial  (Read 11851 times)

Offline GOLDENORFE

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FOCUS STACKING Tutorial
« on: October 24, 2010, 03:40:57 PM »
this is the method of increasing depth of field in macro shots by shooting a series of frames [ 2 or more ] and combining to give a final
image with much greater dof than a single frame could produce.  most of my shots are 2-5 frames.
 a simple 2 frame stack could consist of single frame of a bees body/legs, with a second frame with just the head/eye detail in focus , but upto 9 frames sometimes needed to obtain full dof of certain subjects.
at magnifications of x1 life size shooting , using an apperture smaller than f14 will produce soft details, as magnification increases so does diffraction softening,
so use of larger appertures will give much sharper results, but with much shallower dof.  typically f6.3 - f8 will give sharpest detail on most macro lenses.
i usually shoot f5 - f11  [  at x5 - x1 magnification respectivily ]

this is an example of a focus stack showing the individual frames as shot before stacking -

a series of shots showing how i shoot a high magnification butterfly head focus stack.
all 5 frames of stack are shown which have been converted from raw files and just resized for web.
stacking was performed by zerene stacker -
http://zerenesystems.com/stacker/
there is a free program combine czp that is also very good -
http://www.hadleyweb.pwp.blueyonder.co.uk/CZP/News.htm



to start shooting i hold the stem with perched butterfly in left hand, holding a leaf between fingers to give background colour.
the lens is suported by my thumb or fingers and slid along to change focus points as frames are shot.
everything is therefore kept steady,if my hand moves slightly so does the stem and butterfly, which means all frames are quite well aligned.


resting lens on thumb for support, the blue male butterfly is the one i was shooting


here are the five frames as shot,  iso 100, f8,1/200th full flash ,handheld.
all frames  just converted from raw files and shown resized for web.only slight different focus planes, starting with the nearest hairs towards the camera and shooting each consecutive frame further into the subject , the last of the five frames has the back hairs on the nose in focus.
you can see they are not exactly aligned but zerene stacker still aligned them pretty good. i then used "edit" to clone all the best, sharpest areas.


#1 USED FOR HAIRS NEAREST ON SHOULDER AREA AND ANTENNA DETAILS


#2 THIS IS THE MAIN FRAME WITH WING DETAIL


#3 EYE DETAIL AND WING SCALES and HAIRS BOTTOM RIGHT CORNER


#4 HAIRS AROUND THE HEAD


#5 HAIRS BACK OF HEAD





here is the finished image after stacking,minor adjustments with layer masks in ps. levels/contrast adjustment and very slight crop to remove stacking marks around edge , re size for web and unsharp mask








HOPE THIS IS HELPFULL

PHIL



Offline Mick

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Re: FOCUS STACKING Tutorial
« Reply #1 on: October 25, 2010, 09:38:34 AM »
Thanks for posting this tutorial Phil.  Great stuff.  :tup:

Nice to see how the image is put together from start to finish.   I'm sure loads of peeps will find this information very useful.
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Offline Hinfrance

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Re: FOCUS STACKING Tutorial
« Reply #2 on: October 25, 2010, 12:28:54 PM »
Very informative Phil.

I've done some focus stacking in the past, using Combine ZM, but the part that really intrigues me is not the technical post photography bit, but how on earth do you manage to get an insect to say still long enough to get a focus stack in the first place? With insects I'm lucky if I can get one shot in focus before they fly/run/jump away. Do you spray them with glue?  ???
« Last Edit: October 25, 2010, 12:33:42 PM by Tringle WP »
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Offline Oldboy

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Re: FOCUS STACKING Tutorial
« Reply #3 on: October 25, 2010, 04:54:57 PM »
Very informative Phil.

I've done some focus stacking in the past, using Combine ZM, but the part that really intrigues me is not the technical post photography bit, but how on earth do you manage to get an insect to say still long enough to get a focus stack in the first place? With insects I'm lucky if I can get one shot in focus before they fly/run/jump away. Do you spray them with glue?  ???

He uses a staple gun!  :o :2funny:

Offline bones615

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Re: FOCUS STACKING Tutorial
« Reply #4 on: October 25, 2010, 05:00:47 PM »
Very informative Phil.

I've done some focus stacking in the past, using Combine ZM, but the part that really intrigues me is not the technical post photography bit, but how on earth do you manage to get an insect to say still long enough to get a focus stack in the first place? With insects I'm lucky if I can get one shot in focus before they fly/run/jump away. Do you spray them with glue?  ???

A strategically placed pin?? I have the same problem. Although I tried focus stacking on a flower, camera on tripod but gave up after a couple of attempts because the edges never lined up properly.
Another macro question, how do you get the jumping spiders to sit still? I've chased a few & they are always quicker than me.

Simon

Offline GOLDENORFE

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Re: FOCUS STACKING Tutorial
« Reply #5 on: October 25, 2010, 07:09:50 PM »
thanks guys  :)

you just need to learn more about the bugs,creep up on them & shoot them when they are feeding,resting ect

focus stacking is harder to use with large subjects, flowers for example. the size difference of the subject in the frames can vary alot between 1st and last frame which makes stacking very difficult, but not impossible ;D

phil

ps - never stick pins into them!   they dont like it  ;)

Offline hssutton

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Re: FOCUS STACKING Tutorial
« Reply #6 on: October 25, 2010, 08:00:45 PM »
thanks guys  :)



focus stacking is harder to use with large subjects, flowers for example. the size difference of the subject in the frames can vary alot between 1st and last frame which makes stacking very difficult, but not impossible ;D

phil


Certainly do not agree with the above statement, I've been using "Stacking" for several years, for flowers and also landscapes. In fact it's far easier as flowers and landscapes are stationary (well reasonably so). I also have numerous macros which are stacked. Most of my "stacking" was done with Combine, but now use Photoshop.

Harry




Offline Oldboy

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Re: FOCUS STACKING Tutorial
« Reply #7 on: October 25, 2010, 09:49:13 PM »
Very informative Phil.

I've done some focus stacking in the past, using Combine ZM, but the part that really intrigues me is not the technical post photography bit, but how on earth do you manage to get an insect to say still long enough to get a focus stack in the first place? With insects I'm lucky if I can get one shot in focus before they fly/run/jump away. Do you spray them with glue?  ???

A strategically placed pin?? I have the same problem. Although I tried focus stacking on a flower, camera on tripod but gave up after a couple of attempts because the edges never lined up properly.
Another macro question, how do you get the jumping spiders to sit still? I've chased a few & they are always quicker than me.

Simon

With many insects, and it's true of wildlife in general, you have to be patient and keep trying. Sometime when photographing butterflies, I move slowly towards them and avoid my shadow going over them, but even then they may fly away. Keep watch them as they may land a bit futher along and you have another chance. The two best times for butterflies is when they are feeding from a flower or sunning themselves on a leaf or path. Move up-to them slowly and the closer you get move slower still. Be aware of what is around you, like brambles as they are very interconnected and moving the wrong one can warn your target. The photos above are the common blue and they allow you to get very close without flying off. The more you try it the better you become.

For a few years I have been trying to capture a picture of a fox but have trouble finding them, but I keep trying. Today I came across four foxes and managed to capture two together, miss one because I didn't expect him to be so close, within ten feet, and the last one as I Waited for him to come round some trees but he spotted me before I could photograph him, and all I got was him dashing through trees.  :(

Looking for breakfast:


The one that got away:
« Last Edit: October 25, 2010, 09:51:25 PM by Oldboy »

Offline alan1572

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Re: FOCUS STACKING Tutorial
« Reply #8 on: October 25, 2010, 11:09:39 PM »
Who wanted dry roasted with their pint?

Offline Alfonso_Frisk

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Re: FOCUS STACKING Tutorial
« Reply #9 on: October 25, 2010, 11:17:49 PM »
Agree, this is a stunning shot Harry.
Super thread btw :tup:
creepy crawlies frighten the shoite out of me so sorry wont be investing in fly paper etc but will have a go with flowers :knuppel2:
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Offline spinner

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Re: FOCUS STACKING Tutorial
« Reply #10 on: October 26, 2010, 01:32:13 PM »
I must admit, it never occurred to me to use stacking for landscapes. I have one of those fancy Macro Slider attachments that I got for doing flowers. However, I keep forgetting to retrieve it from the trunk (boot?) of my wife's car.  :-[
And more, much more than this, I did it my way
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Offline hssutton

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Re: FOCUS STACKING Tutorial
« Reply #11 on: October 26, 2010, 04:57:39 PM »
I must admit, it never occurred to me to use stacking for landscapes. I have one of those fancy Macro Slider attachments that I got for doing flowers. However, I keep forgetting to retrieve it from the trunk (boot?) of my wife's car.  :-[

No idea why the "Linked" images are coming out so large. Linked direct from my Photoshop Express gallery.

Spinner, the "macro slider attachment" isn't required when shooting landscapes. The above scene of the flowers and church was handheld with relatively large focus variations as the church was several hundred yards away. If I remember correctly there where 6 images in this stack.

Harry

Offline GOLDENORFE

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Re: FOCUS STACKING Tutorial
« Reply #12 on: October 26, 2010, 07:14:28 PM »
agree  the stack worked great on the church  :)   
i have tried stacking a much greater dof landscape with rocks in extreme foreground through to distant mountains but it did not look realistic, needed to have some natural dof in background

its worth shooting the extra frames even if not used in final image

here is a 2 frame stack from south stack lighthouse on anglesey, 1 frame focused on the white flowers, 2nd frame was on the  path in middle of the frame


Offline spinner

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Re: FOCUS STACKING Tutorial
« Reply #13 on: October 26, 2010, 07:15:52 PM »
Harry, unfortunately neither my hands nor my knees are up to it anymore (oh foolish youth) so the tripod does double duty as a photography accessory and a crutch.  :(
And more, much more than this, I did it my way
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Offline hssutton

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Re: FOCUS STACKING Tutorial
« Reply #14 on: October 26, 2010, 09:27:27 PM »
Harry, unfortunately neither my hands nor my knees are up to it anymore (oh foolish youth) so the tripod does double duty as a photography accessory and a crutch.  :(

Ah! yes the problems of an aging body and as you say foolish youth.

Unfortunately I have the same problem. I can get to ground level without too much difficulty for macro work, but getting back on my feet is a major problem even with the aid of the tripod.

 

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