Bleeding Heart Panorama & Focus-Stacking For Smoother Backgrounds

After a heavy rain the other day I went out to see if I could find some interesting subjects with water drops to photograph. I wanted to use Image Stacking for more detail in the water drops and main subjects, but still have softer backgrounds. This is one of the first subjects I came upon. I was using a Sigma 150mm f/2.8 macro lens on a Canon R. These are all handheld because it was difficult to get the view I wanted using a tripod. The featured image is 13 images shot from left to right @ f/2.8.  Each image in the panorama series is manually focused for the area needed in focus as I shot along the subject to keep a softer cleaner looking background.

Screen Shot 2020-05-06 at 4.41.50 PM

Bleeding Heart_8img stk f11_v1

8 image handheld panorama focused stacked stopping down to  f/11  – giving a much busier looking background

Water_Drops_v2_2img stk_f16_ISO2000

18 image stack @ f/8


8 image Focus Stack – f/16

RainDrops 12img_D_f8_12img_Stk_v5

12 Image Focus Stack @ f/8

RainDrops 9img D-18_9img Stk_v3a

9 Image Focus Stack f/5.6

RainDrops v2_150mm _7img pano f8_800ISO

7 Image Stack @ f/8

RainDrops_18img f_8_v2_150mm stack

18 image stack @ f/8 for a much wider focus range.

12 Comments on “Bleeding Heart Panorama & Focus-Stacking For Smoother Backgrounds

    • Thanks Donna! Even though we are able to finally go to a few local parks, there is not much there that is interesting so far! So I find things in my yard and will post different techniques!

  1. The water droplet shots are exquisite, Reed, and I love how you show show dramatically the difference in the backgrounds between shooting at f/2.8 and f/11. By stacking your images of the bleeding hearts, you were able to make a much more dramatic composition that I was, because I needed them to be as “flat” as possible to get them in focus.

    • Thanks Mike! Doing Commercial Work for 50 years, I tended to do & see things in different ways to get the effect I want. In the “old” days with 4×5 & 8×10 view cameras you could change your focus points with swings & tilts. Or use multiple view camera setups and use the same pin registered 8×10 or 4×5 film holder in different setups with masks in the bellows to get your final shot. With Photoshop I digitally do that with different effects, blending & masks. Hard to believe I have used Photoshop for 30 years now! My first version of Photoshop in 1990 only had 1 undo and no layers. So every step, you saved a version of the file in case something went wrong. Thanks again!

      • I have always wanted to shoot on a view camera. It may be a little too touch to get and use an 8×10 setup, but I think that a 4×5 might be more doable. Who know. Now that the weather is a bit nicer, I may break out my twin-lens reflex camera and shoot some film (probably black and white, so I can develop it myself.)

      • It was fun to use a view camera! It makes you really think out the image you want to achieve. With swings, tilts, rise, fall, etc, you have a lot of control over your image. You could get a 4×5 field camera and make 4×5” contact prints. Or scan the negatives and make digital prints.

      • When I shot some black and white film a couple of years ago, I developed it myself and then scanned the negatives to manipulate them digitally. I kind of enjoyed the hybrid process. As to the actual taking of the photos, even with 35mm SLR, there was so much of a greater sense of intentionality as I manually set the aperture and shutter speed and focused manually than I feel with my DSLR. I suspect that many of the movements of a view camera are dependent on your subject, e.g. architecture would demand different actions than portraits.

      • Yes! With Commercial work You could easily soften certain areas to draw the attention to the main subject or sharper area. We we even made pin registered fIlm holders so we could use the same sheet of film in 2 or 3 setups to get the effects we wanted on one sheet of film before digital made it easy. Luckily we processed our own E6 transparency film so we could fine tune the shots. Placing masks inside the bellows for this was a trial & error sequence of events, but once we got everything aligned it worked well! Plus ad directors loved it because it saved them a lot of money in retouching.

    • Thanks Belinda! It is fun to use different techniques and effects to get what I envision for my final image. Plus it comes in handy here & there!

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