It is getting much colder outside lately and not too many interesting subjects to photograph and post. But during some of our walks I collected a few leaves to photograph in my home studio for showing Focus Stacking for sharp detail (sharp focus) across the whole subject from front to back. There are specialized programs for this but I rely on Photoshop & Bridge for most of my workflow. The newest Bridge version (2019) seems to have some problems with Focus Stacking, so I used the 2018 version of Bridge for these. I had done a Macro Workshop at my local Camera Group, so I had a few printed backgrounds to use for backgrounds for my test images here. Even at f/32 with a 100mm macro lens, I could not get my subject Oak Leaf all in focus in one shot. I also did not want to use a 50mm macro because it would distort the shape of the leaf because of the shorter focal length. I purposely chose a large long 11 inch leaf for this to demonstrate the technique. Using Studio Flash for my tests allowed me to select f/stops that I wanted to use for my test images. The featured image I started with is 15 images @ f/8. Shooting a series of focused areas from the tip of the stem to the top tip. Even at f/8, 15 images was more than I needed.
The above is the start of an 8 image series shot @ f/8. Turned down power on the studio flash for shooting @ f/8
It takes some practice to get used to what f/stop to use and how many focus points to have along your stack. The f/stop also varies on how much light you have. Using studio flash you have more control of your power settings to make choices, but out in the field you have to work with the light you have and your chosen ISO. Once you get used to doing them you are more confident in the final image. With practice you can also get good results when just hand holding the camera for image stacking, not requiring a tripod. In future posts I will work on showing making Panoramas in Photoshop. Panoramas are more forgiving than Stacking when when shooting handheld.
Amazing, Reed! Thank you for sharing the stacking information.
Thanks! They are fun to do! Plus in my Commercial work it is a necessary way to shoot some product shots to retain the detail over a wide range. In the old days of 4×5 & 8×10 view cameras you could control depth of field with tilt and swing adjustments on the camera. Also you can go the reverse way to purposely soften and blur areas and use soft edge masks to achieve the effect you want.
Interesting, thanks for sharing.
Thanks Greta! It comes in handy when you need the detail for certain subjects.
From what you’ve said, I take it the clouds are on a printed photograph that you used as a background for your leaf. Is that right?
Hi Steve! Yes, These were 13″ x 19″ prints I made for backgrounds for a macro workshop I was presenting. Throughout my commercial career in my studio we used a lot of either hand painted backgrounds, photos or display prints for backgrounds. This way we had images that did not have similar looks to other studios. Back in the day we used a Fuji Pictography printer for backgrounds for macro work because of a finer dot pattern than inkjet. In my old studio we had 5 wide format printers and could print up to 5 ft wide x however long. Towards the end we did more display printing than photography. Even though I am retired, a friend let me keep a 60″ HP and a 44″ Epson printer at his studio. At home I use a Epson P800.
I will have a go at focus stacking as it looks good for the long winter nights – the results are incredible
Yes, plus once you do a few and get used to it, they work very well. Plus it gives you more control and depth of field where you want it. Also works pretty good, if careful, hand held out in the field. Just another tool to take advantage of for your photography. And they are fun to do!