Everything You Need to Know About Focus Stacking

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Are you a person who just want to have some fun with photography? Here is another “trick up your sleeve”!!! Yeah?

Focus Stacking. Another great technique for photography aspirants to explore and get your hands dirty. Let’s delve into the domain right away.

Putting it in the simplest way, Focus Stacking is a technique to get impossibly sharp photos with heavy detail like the ones you see in Advertising photography. Adjusting aperture alone can only do so much to get sharp images with a wide depth of field — sometimes, getting both nearest and the farthest point tack sharp in one shot is a strenuous task.

Focus stacking is both shooting and editing technique which plays with depth of field, which determines how much of the image is in focus. Focus stacking can be used in a number of different types of images like in advertising photography. An advertising photographer or product photographer uses this technique to get that sharp high detail image like in Jewellery advertising, Watches, high detailed objects etc. Advertising with images of high detail adds up added advantage while printing hoarding or even magazines. But the trick is most common for macro photography because getting up close to subjects creates a shallower depth of field. It can bring out the heavy detail and textures on insects, Butterflies and other subjects. I even use this technque in wedding photography to get both bride and groom in focus.

Focus stacking is a precise and exacting process which can help macro photography at a professional level. It also takes considerable skill and experience, both behind the camera and in post-processing.

How Does It Work?

Focus Stacking is a process of merging different pictures clicked at different focus distances. Putting it this way, one image will focus on the closeby point of the subject, next in the middle and the next on the farthest point.

You can click as many as you need to get the best clarity output. When those photos are merged, the result is an image with a much deeper depth of field than the original. Basically, it requires layering several images over each other.

Focus stacking is much used when a narrow aperture still isn’t enough to achieve a sufficient depth of field. Nowadays modern cameras like Nikon d850. Panasonic GH4, GH5 has inbuilt features for focus stacking.

Pre-requisites :

  1. A Steady Tripod
  2. Macro Lens
  3. Focusing screen for manual focusing
  4. Post-processing software like Adobe cc

Have all the above pre-requisites along with some patience? Good to go!!

Steps to Capture :

  1. Choose the subject and stabilize the camera.
  2. Set the exposure – Use manual exposure mode to keep the exposure consistent between shots.
  3. Focus on the first area and click – With your camera and the exposure set, change your focus area to single-point autofocus
  4. Continue shooting by adjusting the focus – Iterate the above step, moving the focal point each time, until you have photos with every portion of the subject sharp.
  5. You can also use macro focus rail slider to achieve precision and a shutter release cable to avoid camera shake.

Post-Processing with Adobe CC

  1. Create one file with all four layers stacked on each of in a linear order. Do not jumble up the sequence of the focused image.
  2. Select all four layers, go to Edit>Auto align layers.
  3. Once the layers are aligned, go to Edit>Auto blend layers.
  4. Once the software runs some processing, you will get an image with the sides slightly out of focus. This is caused by auto-alignment and auto-blending.
  5. Crop the final image to get rid of the out of focused areas.

Voila!!!

Now grab your camera, try out this technique and post your shots in the comments section.

 

 

 

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