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Macro Photography Technique Discussions on Macro Photography

Tutorial: How to Focus Stack

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Old 19-02-16, 08:33
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Default Tutorial: How to Focus Stack

In macro photography, due to high magnification, the depth of field (DOF) is highly narrow. So you really can not show much of your subject despite the best macro setup, flash light and lens. For eg the eyes of insect you try to focus is sharp, when the head, antenna, neck body, legs and tail are all out of focus.
So what is the solution? STACK FOCUS.
Yes that is you take multiple images from far to near, each showing a part of your subject in focus, then utilizing the power of your computer, Stack them all together to have a single well focus image from front to back!

In response to a good question from Postcardcv, I decided to write an answer in form of a small Tutorial for all who like to Macro but like to have that magical look with very deep field of view rather than a paper thin plane of focus that if you do macro, you know it is the norm for macro, despite smallest and narrowest F stop.

LINK to Original question:
Quote:
Originally Posted by postcardcv View Post
Found a fly this morning so popped it in the fridge for a few minutes to slow it down and then grabbed a few shots of it. Definitely need to get my head around focus stacking. Can anyone recommend any decent software for it?
Sure.
I can give you two!

Only before that, I can't over emphasis on how important it is to have a steady series of images. That is solid tripod. Non dancing model. Even use cable release to not move camera with shooting as you gently turn the focus ring of lens (In manual mode obviously) with other hand, without any camera move.

Take as many pictures as needed and if length of focus is long, you obviously need more. Problem with more images is your computer needs more time to handle them. Too few images and merge may not be enough smooth.

It is wise to start your first trial on a few inanimate objects arranged rightly from near to far, even if this is not macro setup, under good light, rather than real insect that adds its own challenges such as motion and light needed.

1) Assuming you have no software at all, and you do believe "All the good things in our life are for free", then to best of my knowledge, this software fulfills all the criteria and in fact this is the exact one that in lab people use it for even microscopic specimen photography, use for focus stack.
CombinZM - click here to go directly to download site and make sure to download the right file.

Instillation is easy and without adware or nonsense sponsored ones but as usual pay attention on every Yes you click.
I haven't used it for ages so I am not very good to help you as to how to use it, but it is straight forward and just follow the top bars and all should be fine. Software is capable even allowing to stack via video however you need to master it.
Again can't over emphasis the importance of steady series of images.

2) If you like Photoshop as much as I do (And I believe we all do) and knowing that you already own Photoshop, you may as well use that old friendly ware. I can definitely help you better here and step by step.

Its actually easier than what you think. Only make sure to have a good aligned set of images though software will do some alignment adjustment.
Here is what you need to do:

- Create and Open a new folder and save all the images that have sequence of focus, in that.
RAW is fine but please save yourself the headache and do the initial photo adjustment in LR and have smaller size jpg, to get things faster, unless your computer is top of the line with super doper CPU GPU etc.

- File > Scripts > Load Files into Stack... CLICK.
1.jpg
IMG-1

- On the pop up window, under Files, chose "Browse" to get into folder you created and Select all the images by: click on first image, then Shift + click on last to highlight and select all the files.
2.jpg
IMG-2

- Make sure to have checked the box "Attempt to Automatically Align" and click on OK. If you have few files, it should take only a minute or two, otherwise time to have first coffee or tea!
3.jpg
IMG-3,

-Now once done, you should see all layers in PS.
5.jpg
IMG-5

- Select the top one, go to bottom and Shift + Click to select all.
4.jpg
IMG-4

... continued in next post
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Last edited by sassan; 19-02-16 at 08:58.
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Old 19-02-16, 08:45
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Continued...


- From top menu bar, under EDIT > Auto-Blend Layer >Click
6.jpg
IMG-6

- On the pop up window, Check the "Stack Images" > OK
- Time for another pause/break.
7.jpg
IMG-7

- Once all done, you will see the layers with masks that PS has chosen what was in focus on each layer.

- Congratulation. You are all done and save it.
IMG-8
8.jpg

Now time to practice again to see if you have master the software part and then head to you "Cool" but not "Frozen" insect for macro shooting.

Feel free to leave you result here to see how it is going.
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Old 19-02-16, 10:01
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I used Combine for many years, but it did not work on my version of Win 10. As I now normally use CS6 for stacking I did not investigate the reason as to why it did not work. My recently uploaded photo of an hibiscus was a stack of 6 images'
Members interested in stacking may find this web site interesting http://extreme-macro.co.uk/extreme-macro-software/
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Old 19-02-16, 11:33
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Thanks for taking the time to do this, I will give it a go in the next few days and see how I get on.
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Old 20-02-16, 15:11
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Hi Sassan - think you were trying to embed your images in the post as I've edited it

You need to "Go Advanced" then use the "Attachments" tool on the top row of the toolbar rather than IMG tags
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Old 20-02-16, 19:33
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gidders View Post
Hi Sassan - think you were trying to embed your images in the post as I've edited it

You need to "Go Advanced" then use the "Attachments" tool on the top row of the toolbar rather than IMG tags
Hi Clive.
Yes I know but even without the useful help of bar and yellow icon, I had written them with right code earlier. Only the page's IMG code was turned off. Now that it is ON, I can see all the images show up as they should and thanks a lot for turning the Code on.
Looks great IMO and hope this can help others.

If I can hunt a bug here, I will post some images. Hard to find any moving thing out there in these last winter days, even the bothersome bees and wasps are all gone!

Thanks again Clive.
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Old 20-02-16, 19:36
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wolfie View Post
I used Combine for many years, but it did not work on my version of Win 10. As I now normally use CS6 for stacking I did not investigate the reason as to why it did not work. My recently uploaded photo of an hibiscus was a stack of 6 images'
Members interested in stacking may find this web site interesting http://extreme-macro.co.uk/extreme-macro-software/
Harry: That link is good and useful. I bookmarked it.
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Old 20-02-16, 19:50
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sassan View Post
Hi Clive.
Yes I know but even without the useful help of bar and yellow icon, I had written them with right code earlier. Only the page's IMG code was turned off. Now that it is ON, I can see all the images show up as they should and thanks a lot for turning the Code on.
Looks great IMO and hope this can help others.

Thanks again Clive.
I haven't turned any code on - I've edited your post & used the built in WYSIWYG Advanced Editor using the Attach button and deleted the [IMG] code lines you'd written
Untitled-1.jpg
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Old 22-02-16, 03:26
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gidders View Post
I haven't turned any code on - I've edited your post & used the built in WYSIWYG Advanced Editor using the Attach button and deleted the [IMG] code lines you'd written
Attachment 8962
It worked.
Thanks.
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