Focus stacking is when you combine multiple photographs of different focus distances in order to obtain a single photo with a much greater depth of field than any of the individual shots. This can be done by turning the zoom ring on your lens, but this can be difficult to control (especially for highly magnified photos). It can also be done using special rigs designed for the purpose, but those are generally quite pricey.
Photographer and software engineer David Hunt recently came up with the brilliant idea of turning an old flatbed scanner into a macro rail for shooting focus-stacking photos.
Last month, nearly three hundred programmers descended on Dropbox’s headquarters in San Francisco for the third annual Photo Hack Day. In the span of 24 hours, they threw together 70 new apps using the APIs of different photo services. $10,000 in prize money was distributed to the top three apps. Here’s a look at the three best hacks that popped out of the competition.
Snapping a photograph while driving isn’t the smartest, safest, or easiest thing to do. How then should one go about snapping pictures of the interesting things you drive past without breaking the law or putting people at risk?
Caleb Kraft of Hack a Day has one possible solution: remote-controlled cameras that attach to the side windows of a car.
Photo enthusiast Chris Malcolm needed a better way to aim his 500mm lens at fast moving subjects (e.g. birds in flight), so he upgraded his lens with a DIY sighting aid by attaching a non-magnified red dot sight:
They’re designed to clamp onto a gun sight wedge mount, so some kind of adapter is required. I played with the hot shoe mount, but it was too flexible — the sight needed re-zeroing at every mount, and was easily knocked out of calibration. The degree of precision required to aim the central focus sensor at the target via the dot also made parallax error a problem on the hot shoe. So I decided to mount it directly on the lens. Least parallax error, plus the geometry of the lens barrel and the sight mount naturally lines it up with the lens. To protect the lens barrel I glued the sight clamp to a cardboard tube slightly too small, slit open to provide a sprung grab on the lens body. The slit also handily accommodates the focus hold button on the lens barrel.
Malcolm reports that the site “works amazingly well”, making it “trivially easy to aim the lens at anything very quickly”.
Heavier tripods are generally more stable than lighter ones — wind doesn’t affect them as much — but hauling them around can be a pain. Instructables user Andrew Axley came up with the brilliant idea of making his simple tripod more stable by adding his own weight hook. The tripod is light when not in use and when you need extra stability you simply hang your camera bag onto the hook. All you need to do is figure out a way to attach a hook securely at the center — Axley chose to drill a hole through the side of the center column and attach an S-hook using a bolt and nut.
Tripod stabilizer weight hook (via Lifehacker)
Reading a camera’s user manual is a great way to become familiar with all of its features and functions, but what if you don’t have the patience to sit down and chew through it? Here’s a strange but useful trick for making sure you read the manual thoroughly: put it in the bathroom. By placing it in a place where you’re desperate for things to read, you’ll slowly work your way through it and understand your camera more without having to take a chunk out of your busy day!
(via Reddit via Lifehacker)
Image credit: Magazines by theseanster93
Have a habit of losing your lens caps? Add a clip to them to keep them attached to your camera strap when not in use! All you need are a lapel clip — the kind found on old wired cellphone headsets work great — and some strong mounting tape. It’s basically a DIY version of the Nice Clip, which we featured back in October.
(via Sean Michael Ragan via Make)
Image credits: Photographs by Sean Michael Ragan
Having trouble framing shots when “shooting from the hip” and not looking through (or at) your camera? Lifehacker suggests pointing with your left hand index finger to improve your accuracy. Simply press the finger against your lens, parallel to your camera’s line of sight. The idea is that while we point at things all the time, aiming a camera isn’t quite as intuitive (though it comes with practice). By making the camera an “extension of your body”, you might be able to aim it more naturally!
Wondering whether or not the shutter speeds on your camera are accurate? Instead of taking it to a shop or buying expensive testing equipment, you can use an old television or CRT monitor as a simple shutter speed tester! Camera enthusiast Rick Oleson has an easy to understand diagram showing what you can expect to see from the screen at different shutter speeds. For a more technical explanation and tutorial, check out this article that appeared in a 1967 issue of Popular Science.
You already own a shutter speed tester [Rick Oleson]
If you have a potato chip tube lying around, you can convert the tube into a super simple DIY snoot. All you need to do is cut an opening in the closed end that’s the size of your flash head (tip: use some duct tape to prevent it from scratching your flash).