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These Focus Stacking Walkthroughs Will Help You Take Your Macro Photography to the Next Level

When it comes to macro photography, knowing how to properly focus stack your images can make a massive difference. To that end, the walkthrough above and Photoshop tutorial below offer a fantastic explanation of what focus stacking is, why and when you should be using it, and how to do it using software most of us already have installed and ready to go.

Focus stacking, for those who don’t know, is the combining of several images (sometimes tens of images) shot at different focus distances so that the entire image is in focus. This is particularly important for macro photography because the close you get to a subject the shallower your depth of field gets.

By combining images where the focus point is slowly changed, you end up with a final composite that is 100% sharp and in focus.

So these (plus 4 more):

focusstack3

Become this:

focusstack1

“But why would I do this?” you may ask. Why not just stop down the lens all the way? For one, that might not actually give you enough of the image in focus depending on how small your subject is and how close you are to it; plus, you’ll need to up your shutter speed or bring in serious flash power to compensate and that might not be an option.

And then there are quality issues, because most lenses perform best at an aperture between f/5.6 and f/8. Shooting all the way closed down can kill sharpness even as it brings the entire image in focus, simultaneously causing aberrations and other issues.

Using focus stacking, you can take multiple pictures at your lens’ ideal aperture and end up with a tack-sharp shot like this one:

This is a focus stack made up of 19 separate images

This is a focus stack made up of 19 separate images

So… how do you do this? The best option is to use a dedicated focus stacking program as the video at the top shows, but if you don’t have access to one or don’t want to pony up the cash just yet, the tutorial below will show you how to do it in Photoshop:

Nailing down this technique is crucial if you’re going to take your macro photography to the next level. So check out the videos and examples above and, if you have further tips, feel free to drop them in the comments down below! Happy snapping.

(via Reddit)


Image credits: Focus stacking Tachinid fly by Muhammad Mahdi Karim and Laboulbeniales on Harmonia axyridis by Gilles San Martin