What’s focus stacking? – Photofocus

Whenever you purchase a quick lens with a vibrant aperture, like f/1.8, you go loopy making photographs with a super-shallow depth of subject. You {photograph} flowers the place just one stamen is in focus, and also you shoot individuals with tremendous blurry backgrounds, and it’s a lot of enjoyable utilizing the skinny slice of focus.

Nevertheless, there are a lot of occasions when that skinny slice simply doesn’t reduce it. Typically you simply want the whole lot in focus, and even should you cease all the way down to the lens’s smallest aperture you continue to could not have the ability to get the whole lot in sharp focus. That’s the place focus stacking is available in.

What’s focus stacking?

Focus stacking is the method of creating a number of photos of a scene whereas altering the main target between photographs after which combining them in software program to get a pointy photograph of the entire scene. It’s typically utilized in close-up images as a result of whenever you focus near a topic the depth of subject could be very shallow even should you use a small aperture.

That is an exaggerated instance, however it demonstrates the purpose. My children and I made photos of their toy vehicles. That is what the picture seems like when it’s shot at f/1.2 with a really shallow slice of focus.

It’s cool, however it’s not what you see whenever you have a look at a toy automobile.

Shoot & shift, shoot & shift

Focus stacking requires a totally secure platform — if there’s any motion, the photographs gained’t line up effectively. I used a Platypod Extremely (B&H | Amazon) with Vanguard Veo ball head (B&H | Amazon) to carry my digicam regular. I added the rubber pad that comes with the multi-accessory equipment as a result of the desk was so easy that the Platypod moved round every time I fired the shutter. The pad made the entire thing rock regular and immovable.

To make this image all in focus, it is best to deal with the closest a part of the automobile, then swap your digicam to handbook focus. Shoot an image, then flip the main target ring on the lens just a little bit to focus farther away and shoot once more. Preserve doing that till you’ve photographed the entire thing at each distance. This takes endurance, however it’s a enjoyable instrument to maintain in your equipment.

Lumix permits you to cheat

I ought to admit that I cheated to make the image above. Lumix cameras have a characteristic referred to as Submit Focus which shoots the main target stack for you mechanically and even combines all of the photographs mechanically within the digicam. The photographs above are all straight from my GH5 digicam (B&H | Amazon), and it’s fairly good.

The digicam mechanically senses which areas of the body must be targeted on and shoots an image at each spot. It makes use of the 6K video capabilities to get it executed, and it’s cool. Then you possibly can select to both mix all the pictures collectively or select a handful of them to mix. It doesn’t all the time look this good — it could have some hinky spots of blurry focus, however it’s an incredible instrument and actually enjoyable to make use of. I’ll present you ways easy it’s to do in Photoshop down under.

Behind the scenes

For these photos, the vehicles and digicam are sitting on the kitchen desk. I positioned a softbox with a steady gentle (B&H | Amazon) instantly over the vehicles. Transferring the sunshine up and down makes it roughly contrasty. When it’s down very near the desk, the background behind the vehicles that isn’t lit turns into black, which is a enjoyable impact.

What’s extra, that is the form of factor children can take part in. Since I used a steady gentle as a substitute of a speedlight or different flash, my daughter may see precisely what the image appeared like earlier than capturing which helped her pose the vehicles in precisely the fitting spots.

Stack in Photoshop

Stacking the photographs collectively in Photoshop is actually easy as a result of Photoshop automates the method. There are different instruments on the market that do focus stacking higher than Photoshop, however I’ve Photoshop in order that’s what I’m utilizing. To get began, open all of the photographs out of your stack as layers in a single Photoshop doc.

Subsequent, choose all of the layers and go to the Edit menu and select Auto-Mix Layers. The choose the Stack Photographs choice and press OK. Now simply wait a couple of minutes. Photoshop will mix all of it collectively. If it is advisable to make changes, you need to use a black and white paintbrush to work on mixing the Adjustment Layers just a little higher.

Right here’s the outcome from Photoshop.

I’m not an skilled at focus stacking, however I do dabble in it. I feel should you give it a strive you’ll discover a lot of occasions when it might be a useful gizmo. My private problem is to make use of it for stuff that’s not close-up. I may use this to {photograph} a panorama utilizing a wider and sharper aperture after which mix the pictures to get deep focus. I’ll let you understand how it goes.