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Focus Stacking in Photography

Focus Stacking in Photography

Increase Your Depth of Field

Focus stacking in photography is used to increase the depth of field. In macro photograph it is very hard to get a wide depth of field. A wide depth of field means everything in focus. A shallow depth of field would be just a little area in focus.

Depth of field is controlled by three factors, aperture, distance to subject and focal length. In this case distance to subject is what causes a very shallow depth of field. Even with a really high aperture it is difficult to get a wide depth of field in macro photography. Below is a single image of this Hibiscus I photographed outside my house.

Image without focus stacking

As you can see all that is in focus are some of the little tiny hairs on the stigma of the hibiscus. This is not a bad thing but in this image I wanted to get the stigma and the anther in focus. The anther is the yellow part in the background. The only way I can do this is by using focus stacking inside of Adobe Photoshop or another program that supports the technique.

To accomplish this task I took a series of 16 images and changed my focus point each time I took a photo. If I was not so close I would not have need to take so many images. In this photograph I was using a Canon 100mm macro and a focusing tube. The wind was blowing and that did not help the situation

Image of all 16 photographs used in focus stacking.

This is a screen shot of the the images I used to make this one image. Inside of photoshop I layered all the image into one file using a process called "Load Files into a Stack."

I then selected all the files and auto blended this files together using focus stacking. Photoshop is able to mask out the parts of each image that are sharp and in focus. It then combines all the different in focus parts into one image.

Image with focus stacking

This is an untoned detail of this image. Notice how you can see the yellow anther. It looks like a ton of little tiny fish eggs. This is the part of the flower, that I was really interested in photographing. I really like clean simple backgrounds so I left the flower petals totally out of focus.

Final Photograph with Focus Stacking

This is the final image of the hibiscus after focus stacking and toning. I made the file 36 inches wide so I can print it quite large. This will really help with seeing all the little tiny detail in this photograph. I hope you enjoyed this explanation on focus stacking. I am hoping the stay-at-home order gets lifted soon so I can get back to work. If you would be interested in purchasing a print of the flower please contact me.

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