Focus Stacking RainDrop Images

After a rain it is fun to go out in the gardens to photograph raindrops. To get more Depth of Field (sharper focus across the image) and still have a smoother background, I use Focus Stacking techniques. I usually use f/8 or f/11, but it depends on how many images I want in my Focus Stack and how soft a background I want. The more wide open your f/stop, the more Focus Points you will need to add to the series of images. The Featured Image was 10 images taken with a 150mm Sigma macro lens @ f/8 on a Canon R. Images were loaded into 1 Layered Photoshop file and then let Photoshop align the 10 layers. (Edit-Auto Align Layers). After aligning the layers, choose Auto-Blend Layers to let Photoshop blend the sharpest sections from each layer into the final image. This Layer will be on the top of the layered Photoshop file. You will see the masked layers below the final showing the sharpest sections Photoshop masked and blended for the final layer on top. I usually save this layered file in case I need to go in and do a slight touch up here or there. Start with a 3 or 4 layered stack to help get the feel for doing this technique. Once you have done a few you will get the technique down and see what f/stops or how many layers work best for your imaging style. Also the amount of layers depends on how much of the image you want to be in sharp focus.

Raindrops – 8 image Focus Stack – @ f/2.8, Sigma 150mm macro, Canon R
Raindrops – 9 image Focus Stack, f/8. 150mm, Sigma 150mm, Canon R
Raindrops – 12 image Focus Stack, f/16
Raindrops – 12 image Focus Stack, f/8 for Smoother Background

Image Stacking For Detail With Soft Backgrounds

Quite often I use Image Stacking techniques for my macro images. This works best if you are using a longer macro lens for shallower depth of field & softer cleaner backgrounds. I shot with the lens wide open and take images starting from the closest area I want in focus & ending where I want the background to go softer. The image I chose for this blog is one I photographed years ago. It was photographed using a tripod with a Sigma 150mm Macro lens & 1.4x Canon Teleconverter.  I also went a little overboard on layers, but because I was using a 150mm lens with a 1.4x Teleconverter I shot more focus points than usual. I ended up with 44 images in this stack. But shooting @ f/2.8 & adding the 1.4x teleconverter it was actually f/4 (Wide Open). I started from the bottom of the image & worked my way up to the top. You can also not use all the layers if you want to select where the softness ends or begins. Here I purposely ended where I wanted it to end. You can also use a smaller aperture / larger f/stop number to use less images for the stack but I like the smoother background.

I then load all the images into one Photoshop layered file and select all layers.

A) Under Edit – chose Auto Align Layers

Screen Shot aaa

Screen Shot bb

(B) then select Edit – Auto-Blend Layers – for final blending.

Below is Final Blended file on the top layer in Photoshop with all the sharpest sections of each Layer (masked) below the final layer.

 

Screen Shot b

I use this technique with my macro images mainly to get the greatest detail on my main subject and the softest backgrounds behind them. You can also control how much sharpness you have on your subject and where the softness starts. With practice the results get more reliable for what you are envisioning when you are photographing them. Also you can change your mind after you captured the series and have the detail or less detail where you want it while you are adjusting your files.

image 1

First Image in Series

 

 

 

 

 

 

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