Focus Stacking while Social Distancing

March 24, 2020  •  1 Comment


Everyone has their own way to stay busy while social distancing.  I've been out in the studio playing around with something I've been meaning to try for a while.  Focus Stacking.  The photo above may look like one photo but it's actually a combination of 25 photos.  Photographers usually don't want out of focus images unless they are trying to achieve a soft background.  You'll see below the first and last photos of the 25 shot, which show the focus range of the group.

Focus Stacking allows photographers to work around limitations of depth of field and create images that would be impossible to capture otherwise.  

Depth of field can be so shallow that interesting aspects of the photos are not sharp.  Setting to a smaller aperture may be used to increase depth of field, but that will move the aperture farther from the lens's "sweet spot."  That will introduce diffraction into the image, giving the feel of some fuzziness.  The lens used in this photo is the Nikon AF-S VR Micro-Nikkor 105mm f/2.8G IF-ED, I find the "sweet spot" for this lens to be at F8, which is what I used here.  I also want to shoot with a low ISO so as not to introduce digital noise to the image.  It's important for the camera to be mounted on a solid tripod.

My first image is focused on the front of the foreground apple and then 24 additional images taken all the way to the back of the bowl.  You can work with less photos but you'll get a smoother transition with more.  I didn't include images of the background board purposely, keeping that in soft focus.

Camera used is my Nikon D850.  Lit with Dynalite pro lighting system with a medium Chimera softbox.

The next steps are done in Adobe Photoshop, and Diane did this part.  First, open all (25!) images at once (jpegs downsized from original first to make reasonable sized files.)  Go to File>Automate>Photomerge and choose the option "All open files."  Uncheck "blend images together."  If you are using 25 photos like we did, it may take a little while.  Next, select all layers in your layers palette.  Now go to Edit>Auto Blend Layers and choose the option "stack images."   When it was done, we could see the 25 layers with layer masks on each, and there were "cut-outs" in the layers to reveal the focus areas.  She flattened and saved, and then did a little editing.

Everyone stay healthy and stay home for now!

ApplesFocusStack_01wApplesFocusStack_01w ApplesFocusStack_25wApplesFocusStack_25w


Tom Hamel(non-registered)
Dave & Diane,

That's cool, now I know why you are such a great photographer and of course Diane does most of the magic.
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