- May 13th. 2013
- By Thomas Shue
A Focus Stacking Workflow For Lightroom And Photoshop
The Tip I Want In Focus
The Base Petals I Want in Focus
Have you ever taken a picture and wished you had enough depth of field so several things could be focus at the same time? An example is when you shoot a flower, you can focus on the edge of the petals, but the tip of the center will be out of focus. The same is also true if you focus on the center of the flower, the petals will then be out of focus. There is just no amount of depth of field that will carry focus in that situation. A tilt shift lens help a little, but your out of focus blur shifts from a front to back situation, to a vertical one. This focusing problem holds true for landscapes, bees, heck anything that you can focus on.
In the macro world they learned long ago to use a technique during capture called Focus Stacking. Focus Stacking a system used during capture that allows you to extend depth of field that is impossible any other way. There is even special software (Helicon is top of the food chain for this) to automate the focus stacking postwork process. The whole idea is to work from a tripod and to shoot an object that does not move. The idea is to work your way from one end of the object to the other, rotating the focus ring just a little at a time, ending up with a series of images that when processed will show your object completely in focus. It sounds complicated but it isn’t, it’s just tricky for me to explain in words.
There are special nodal and macro rails to insure you cover your object in it’s entirety. However, there is no need to take it that far in order for this technique to be an effective tool for your image making tool box. Heck you don’t even need a tripod in most cases, just be sure to shoot loose around the edges of the frame. The reason is, you’ll need to crop your final image in order compensate for any misalignment issues created during capture. Remember, no tripod equals framing issues, thank goodness we have Photoshop to save our butts.
In the video below, I shot a hand-held sequence of images of a hibiscus. All I wanted was to have the tip of the flower (stigma pads & pollen sax) to be in focus along with the base petals of the flower. I was able to focus stack only two images in order get the final image I was after. The whole time I was shooting, I envisioned two images, an old-looking black and white, and a 1970′s faded velvia saturated vivid color shot. I am not quite sure I was able to pull it off in post, but I am happy. Just remember I was not shooting this for a job, I was shooting it because I just liked the flower and was hoping to make a print.
Sometimes you just grab the camera and have some fun, even if it’s shooting a simple flower. If you are anything like me, you will feel uneasy with the world if you don’t have your camera in hand making a picture at least once in a day. Thanks for taking time to stop by today. I hope whatever it is you’re doing today is fun and exciting and this post was able to help in some way. Sincerely, Thomas Shue
Below are the two finished images of the flower. Sometimes I just have to get this stuff out of my head so I can move on. So, do ya think I was able to pull off my vision? I would love to hear from you.
The B&W From My Vision
The 1070″s Faded Velvia Vision