Have a go - Focus Stacking

Submitted by rickcrowther on Sun, 12/04/2020 - 18:05

We recently saw a video of a landscape photographer who had used focus stacking to increase depth of field in his images, and thought we'd try it out. Focus stacking is only of use for static subjects such as still life, macro photography or landscapes. I understand it is very widely used in studio work for commercial product photography. And it's actually quite easy to do in Photoshop !

How does it work ? The idea is to extend the depth of field that the camera/lens would normally allow by taking several images of the same subject that are focused at different points (front to back) in the scene. Usually 3 or 4 images is sufficient, but for macro work when the actual depth of field is wafer thin, more can be useful.

A tripod is essential, as we need each image to cover the same space, although differently focused. Either use manual focus, or use the camera's focus point selection tool to change the focus distance for each shot in turn.

Here is a deliberately simple example that I tried out today to demonstrate the effect :

Pic 1Pic 2Pic 3Pic 4

As you can see, I have 4 near identical pictures that differ only in which doll is in focus. It would be difficult to get all 4 dolls in focus without using a tiny aperture, which presents different problems of its own (long exposure, loss of sharpness due to diffraction, or maybe we could use a high ISO and get noise).

Focus stacking lets us join the "best bits" of each of the images automatically to produce a merged image in which all the parts can be in focus at once.

Merged

If you'd like to learn how to do this there is a good explanation here : https://www.photoshopessentials.com/photo-editing/focus-stack-images-photoshop/ 

Also any number of YouTube videos as usual !

To see larger copies of the images, follow the gallery link below

Happy Easter,  stay safe and bye for now

Rick