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Thread: 1st attempt at focus stacking

  1. #1

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    1st attempt at focus stacking

    Here's my very first attempt at focus stacking. 5 images merged in photoshop. The photomerge function did not work at all so after a little shopping for advice online I found a way to get it done. I loaded all of the files from Bridge into photoshop as layers then used "auto align" followed by "auto blend". This seems to work fairly well. I have to assume that it is a glitch in CS6 that wouldn't allow it to work properly through "file, automate, photomerge"
    Your C & C is most appreciated and welcome. I can already tell that I need to work on my range of focus and such (more images with finer adjustments of focus).
    Canon 5D mkII, 100mm f2.8 macro at f5.6, iso 100, 1/50 sec.


    1st attempt at focus stacking

  2. #2
    dje's Avatar
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    Re: 1st attempt at focus stacking

    David the method you have used seems to have worked well and created a lovely image.

    As far as I'm aware, the CS6 Photomerge process is for stitching images together to make a panorama rather than for focus stacking. The merging occurs at the seams where the images are stitched.

    Dave

  3. #3
    FlyingSquirrel's Avatar
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    Re: 1st attempt at focus stacking

    Nice image. A few opinions and suggestions based on my experience...

    Photoshop's stacking ability is garbage compared to that of a dedicated software, such as Helicon Focus. I've tried Photoshop several times, and the results were terrible, even when running the workflow as you described- aligning first, then blending. I purchased and use Helicon Focus and it's much faster, more accurate, has better options, and allows touchups using the aligned images. After that, I bring it into Photoshop for the final touchups such as cloning out the overlap fringes and such.

    When making studio type shots at home, I use Helicon Remote (an included extension) which controls your camera and automates the process of making steps in focus. It's pretty awesome and I highly recommend it when shooting indoors (and potentially in the field if you have a laptop computer with you)

    Regarding your shot, I wonder if you really needed focus stacking for this subject. The depth of field gained with the technique might not be required for the depth of your subject. Then again, you were able to keep the background blurred nicely, so there is that advantage, which IMO is justification in itself to use stacking.

    Finally, I caution you to be aware that focus stacking can get addicting and very time consuming.

  4. #4
    rawill's Avatar
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    Re: 1st attempt at focus stacking

    Have you tried Helicon, Zerene or CombineZP

    I like your image.

  5. #5
    Stagecoach's Avatar
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    Re: 1st attempt at focus stacking

    David,

    A very good first attempt and your method has more than likely worked as well as the most common stacking programmes such as Zerene and CombineZP.

    I'm interested as to the reasoning behind your comment ""I can already tell that I need to work on my range of focus and such (more images with finer adjustments of focus)"" if it is with respect to this image.

    Going off tangent a bit I experimented with focus stacking some time ago using CombineZP and later with a prog called 'ControlMyNikon' for remote automatic control of focus steps and mostly with flowers. After I had perfected things and was able to get entire flowers in good sharp focus with at times up to 25 stacked images I took time out and thought what am I trying to achieve ? Do I want a technically perfect and sharp throughout image for 'record purposes' or, a work of art ?

    If a 'work of art' that could perhaps be hung as a wall canvas or print my preference was that it looked better or more appealing to me if not all of the subject (flower in this case) was in sharp focus but just the most interesting part.

    Anyway, that was just my thoughts on focus stacking with respect to flowers and as Matt has suggested you will become easily addicted to this new challenge.

    I took the liberty of undertaking a crop to help explain what I see as the difference between a technical record and possibly a more appealing work of art, would you allow me to post it as IMHO it certainly demonstrates the success of your first stack ?



    Grahame
    Last edited by Stagecoach; 26th April 2013 at 09:38 AM. Reason: Addnl comment

  6. #6

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    Re: 1st attempt at focus stacking

    "As far as I'm aware, the CS6 Photomerge process is for stitching images together to make a panorama rather than for focus stacking. The merging occurs at the seams where the images are stitched."

    After trying to do this using some pretty basic instructions which I found on the internet, I have come to the conclusion that you are correct Dave. After looking into it further it seems as though there as many ways to accomplish focus stacking as there are subjects to shoot. Thanks for taking the time to help me out!


    "Finally, I caution you to be aware that focus stacking can get addicting and very time consuming."

    Hi Matt, and thanks for the advice. My biggest excitement (or fear, actually) is that I will get such software and accoutrement's as you speak of and will stop showing up for my day job. Of all the photography I have done in the past, for some inexplicable reason, macro has seemed to have gotten a hold on me. It's relaxing and so enveloping. My education is in Biology so that might explain things a little. Thanks again for some really good advice!


    "Have you tried Helicon, Zerene or CombineZP"

    "A very good first attempt and your method has more than likely worked as well as the most common stacking programmes such as Zerene and CombineZP."

    Ok, I'll take a look at this software. Thank you one and all very much!

    "I'm interested as to the reasoning behind your comment ""I can already tell that I need to work on my range of focus and such (more images with finer adjustments of focus)"" if it is with respect to this image."

    Grahame, the reason I said this is that I can see that I missed some fine focus on the anther where the pollen tops it off. I have been shooting macro for a little while now and have come to the point where I am seeking finer detail and focus from my images. I guess it is more of an attempt to challenge myself to get better at macro. This is certainly not to say that I intend to throw away the artistic aspect of the shot, just thinking that if I can get the technical stuff down pat then it may be much easier for me to concentrate on the artistic side.

    "I took the liberty of undertaking a crop to help explain what I see as the difference between a technical record and possibly a more appealing work of art, would you allow me to post it as IMHO it certainly demonstrates the success of your first stack ?"

    Absolutely! Please go ahead and post it. The more eyes I get to see my images through the more I can learn!

  7. #7
    Stagecoach's Avatar
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    Re: 1st attempt at focus stacking

    Hi David

    Thanks for the reply, I now fully understand where you were coming from with respect to more focus steps.

    Here's my 'crop' of your image and I certainly am not trying to suggest that it is preferable in any way but just another aspect when looking at it as perhaps a work of art compared to a worthwhile record of a great first attempt at stacking.

    1st attempt at focus stacking

    Grahame

  8. #8

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    Re: 1st attempt at focus stacking

    I like your version better Grahame. Thank you!

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