I use this technique quite often for my multi-image focus stacked Dragonfly (or other subjects) images. Shooting @ f/5.6 or even f/8 to get smoother looking backgrounds around the dragonfly it is hard to get the wings & tail sharp. So I tend to quickly photograph 3 to 8 images of different focus areas on the dragonfly. Or even more depending on the position of the dragonfly or the size of the subject. In the beginning to get used to doing this technique shoot more focus point areas. You may not need them all, but you have them just in case. These images were shot with a Canon 300mm f/4 lens on a Canon 7d, handheld.
Select images for the focus stack and Load the files into 1 layered Photoshop file-
My Final Steps are to save the layered file. Then Flatten the layers if you need to do minor touch-ups here or there. Sometimes you will need to do a very slight touch-up or cloning, but nothing major.
These are also similar to doing Multi-Image Panoramas. Or try a combination of Image Stacks & Panoramas in the same file. So you can experiment with different effects. Comes in handy quite often when out in the field photographing. Cuts down on lugging a lot of lenses or even a tripod with you. Try it and let me know how you do! But if you like shooting with a tripod you can use the same steps with a tripod!
Thank you for a very educational lesson. Working myself with GIMP, which I do not think has this opportunity.
Hi! I have never used GIMP. I’ve used Photoshop since 1990 so it is just so natural for me to use Photoshop in my workflow!😊
I’m not a fan of lugging around a lot of equipment. I’ll have to give this a try. Your results are excellent, Reed!
Thanks Belinda! They are fun to do. Once you get used to doing them you can come up with ways to tweak your exposures and amount of focus points to go with your own style.
Pretty sure I could never pull this off. I can barely get one sharp image hand holding the camera much less several that could be matched up.
I think you could! Never know til you try!👍 Photoshop does most of the work! Comes in handy even for panoramas.
Fabulous processing, Reed! Thanks for the instruction, I’ve got to try this sometime!
Thanks Donna! It works for a variety of subjects, insects, raindrops on plants, flowers, etc! Hope your motor home gets fixed soon!
Where do you go to find these butterflies in New Jersey and how do you get them to stay still while focus stacking?
I go to local parks, usually with ponds or some water. Some were in my yard. Or National Wildlife Refuges. In NJ, the Brigantine Division of the Edwin B. Forsythe NWR. My favorite for a wide variety is Blackwater NWR in Maryland. On focus stacking – many times a dragonfly is basking on a plant in the sun, so not moving much. So I manually focus different areas of the dragonfly. I shoot at wider open f/stops for a smoother background. I try to focus & photograph main areas- head, left wing tips, right wingtips and then tail. Then in Photoshop I load all images for that series into a layered Photoshop file. Then select auto-align layers. Then choose auto blend to blend the sharpest areas into one layer on top. I save that psd file, then flatten and save a tif or jpeg for the final.
Thanks for that, Reed.