There have been a number of threads recently in which people asked about focus stacking. I thought this example might be useful.
First, my basic stacking workflow:
1. import the stack into lightroom
2. change WB, exposure if needed.
3. Examine at 100% to see which images in the set are needed to get the desired DOF
4. export as 16-bit TIFFs, still in proPhoto RGB
5. Stack in Zerene, retouch if needed (more on this below)
6. Import the stacked image back into LR
7. Edit in LR
I rarely need to use a pixel editor for these, but if I do, I move the image to photoshop.
A few days ago, I created this image, which is a stack of 20 images. I wanted the entire open flower in focus, and I thought I should keep a few of the star-shaped unopened ones in focus too. I used Zerene's retouching in a few spots where the stacked image had halos from parallax. You pick the image from the stack that is "correct" for each area and paint from it to the composite.
Here it is:
I didn't like it. The detail outside of the main flower is distracting. I wanted more blur outside the main flower. However, I looked at the images, and I found that I needed almost as many just to get the farthest point in the flower in focus. I could only shave off one or two, so the stack would still have the background too much in focus.
So, I stacked again (I still had the TIFFs), dropping one or two from the back of the stack. Then I used Zerene's retouching tool to paint the entire background from the top-most image, to get it more blurred.
Now I had the basic image I wanted, but I did not have the edits. Because LR is a parametric editor, there is no harm in redoing any adjustments at any time. You can return to any adjustment and adjust again. As a result, the history was 29 steps long!
However, LR makes this trivial. I just selected the first image and synched all settings to the new image. It took just a couple of mouse clicks and a few seconds.
Here is the result:
It's all a matter of taste. I like this better. Iowever, that's not why I posted. I thought this is a good example of why Lightroom and Zerene make a very powerful combination for focus stacking.
The original images were ISO 200, f/9, with a 100mm macro lens. At f/9, I probably could have made do with fewer images, but I always try to err on the side of too many, because too few means starting all over.