Last Praying Mantis In the Gardens

The featured image is a stacked multi-image, multi-row Praying Mantis panorama. This was the last Praying Mantis I photographed in our gardens this year. We had quite a few throughout the summer, but this was the largest Mantis I photographed this year. The featured image is 8 images, shot in 3-multi-rows of overlapping images. I managed getting 3 images for the top row, 3 images for middle row & only 2 images for the bottom row before it moved. I was shooting handheld with a 300mm lens @ f/5.6 for a softer, smoother background since I wanted a blurred background not showing details of the flowers & siding on the house. I concentrated my focus on the head and front legs and so the yellow flowers behind the Mantis gave a bright pop of interesting color.

Praying Mantis Head Detail, single image, f/11 for a little more depth of field, 300mm, handheld

Handheld Dragonfly Focus Stacking In Photoshop

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-

2 A Load files into Layere PSD copy

Load the files into one layered Photoshop file

6 Aligned Layers befor blending

Select layers & auto align the layers (with all layers selected)

7 auto blend layers

Choose Auto-Blend layers (with all layers selected)

auto blend 2

Check box for Stack Images and Seamless Tones & Colors. Try Content Aware Fill Transparent Areas. Sometimes works well, other times does not. You can just crop in on final image which I usually do.

10 after auto blend

After Auto Blend you can see Photoshop selected the sharpest areas from each layer to blend and put the final blended image on top in the layers palette. You can see the “Masks” Photoshop made for each of the layered images in the PSD 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!

 

 

 

Black-crowned Night-heron 3 Image Shot Stack Panorama

I came across this Black-crowned Night-heron along the path as I was walking. It was too close for the lens I had (400mm). So I shot a handheld 3 shot, overlapping, sequence to fit all of the heron in my photo. I assembled them in Photoshop and cropped in somewhat. The Heron did not seem to mind me being there. Usually they fly off you stay too long.

Another Great Egret Panorama

This Great Egret was stalking the shoreline looking for a meal. I wanted to include the Egret’s reflection since it added to the overall look I wanted, so I shot 2 shots quickly to minimize the Egret’s movement. Aligned, blended and composed in Photoshop.

 

Plant Panorama – Handheld Image Stack

Sometimes while I am waiting for a photo subject to come into view, I experiment with different techniques with what I see in front of me. Helps pass the time until a photo subject flies by. I saw this tall plant and wanted to see if a handheld series of horizontal shots for a vertical panorama would work. I have done this with birds, snakes, mammals and alligators but wondered if it would work with all the leaves and branches, much more varied detail and items to line up. I was surprised it worked well, not a great composition, but more of a test project, 5 horizontal shots for a vertical panorama, with the uneven sides cropped off. Shot with a Canon 400mm f/4 DO Lens, with a 2X Canon Teleconverter.

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