TableTop Photography With Focus Stacking For Detail & Depth of Field

It is getting colder outside and not a lot of interesting subjects to photograph. When I was out photographing during the year, I look for interesting objects & props for subjects in my little indoor studio for the colder & snowy months. I also have a series of prepared 13 x 19 or larger backgrounds I have designed in Photoshop and printed on a heavyweight Luster Photo media. This gives me stock backgrounds ready to use for my “still life” shots. I print at the highest print setting to minimize the inkjet dot pattern in the prints, which only really might show up in very close macro shots. For this series, I used a set of 400 watt second monolights with softboxes for overall lighting. The images here are shot with a 100mm macro lens with 3 to 8 different focused area shots for each main image. Then put those shots into 1 layered Photoshop file for each of the different still life layered setups. Next I used Photoshop to “Focus Stack” and align those layers. I then used Photoshop to blend the sharpest sections of each of the layers below into one final top layer with the sharpest areas from those below. By shooting a variety of sharp focus points across your image, you “pick and choose” your areas you want sharp, or areas you want to de-emphasize by softening that area. In the “Old Days” I would have used view cameras with swings & tilts to maximize sharpness across the image. Or purposely throw off sharpness for soft out of focus areas that your eye then goes to the sharp in focus area that draws your attention to a certain spot in the image. All images in this series were photographed with a Canon 100mm f/ 2.8 macro lens.

Feathers_100mm v3Macro 100mm 2img pano_v2_f18Feather 10- 3img stk_100mm f16Feather_2img Pano f16 100mm_v2Macro_100mm f16 4img stk_v1Macro_100mm_f16_8img stk_pano_v2Macro_100mm_f14_v2_76A1413-2

Macro_100mm f14 v1_76A1415

Sometimes you try a few layouts then choose the one you like best when they are all assembled. The image above this one was the image I liked best from these 2 layouts, Probably because they were pointing upwards instead of downward.

14 Comments on “TableTop Photography With Focus Stacking For Detail & Depth of Field

  1. Wow, so very cool, Reed! I’ve never worked ‘inside’ with still life photography. Something I think I should start considering doing to improve my skills and broaden my horizons and subjects. I’ve been working the past week on night photography. Ugh! Not quite good at it yet, although I am happy with some moon shots. 🙂

    • It is always nice to try “new” ways to photograph things that interest you. I have just closed my Commercial Photography Corporation this week and I am now fully retired. This blog started years ago because doing Commercial work for what clients wanted me to shoot, it gave me an outlet to photograph my interests and what I wanted to photograph. After 50 years of commercial work I am glad to be done. But it was amazing what we had the opportunity to photograph and see before the general public knew about them. Two of our clients gave us digital cameras to try and get our opinion before most people ever heard of “digital”. We were one of the first in NJ to go totally digital. So it was an interesting profession and enjoyed the challenge of meeting clients requirements. Plus meeting a lot of interesting & talented people In the companies we worked with over all those years.

      • Congratulations on your ‘full’ retirement, Reed! And what a history you have with photography and the opportunities you had. I have been inspired with your photos and posts. Keep ’em coming!

      • Thanks Donna! Gives us more time to go to places we wanted to go and photograph certain areas when it is the Peak time to go. Work always seemed to get in the way!

      • I know that feeling with work always in the way, we had a hard time taking a vacation, it was 3-4 days that worked the best but that didn’t give us much time for each ‘escape’ and didn’t happen so often. We had to play single day hooky from the office and went boating on the Chesapeake Bay, lol. We closed our 30-year flooring contractor business in 2015, and have been searching for places to go and enjoy ever since! Now that I’m doing so much better with my knee replacement from an unfortunate accident two years ago, things are looking better for travel with the new RV. 🙂

  2. Love the idea of bespoke lustre backgrounds – I too have been messing about shooting old Film Cameras but in a small light box and dealing with the backgrounds in post processing but this could help me immensely

    • Throughout my career in my studio we made a lot of our backgrounds for our commercial photo shoots. So they kind of blend in to my personal work flow. This also gives a personal touch to your own work where they are not the “stock” backgrounds you can buy and are custom to your own images. So your work stands out more because it is different. Also it is fun to see what you come up with to blend in to your vision for your final image. Thanks again!

      • Top stuff Reed, as u see from my feed im used to working natual light and tripod, filters etc, the studio is an area im developing

      • Hope you have fun trying Studio setups! It is fun to see what you come up with and is an interesting facet of photography. Plus it blends into other areas of photography. I believe it helps with your “vision” in other facets of photography in general even when out of the studio. Sometimes you actually “see” more of the surroundings around your main focus to maybe try different croppings or compositions. Hope you have fun trying and will look forward to seeing your images!

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