Something New – Focus Stacking

I have been reading about the art of focus stacking for a while, and while I haven’t found a useful reason to try it out (or a good subject) I figure I should give it a go.

We had some flowers, which were dying so I took one of the heads and left it on our coffee table. I started trying to get shots in our dimly lit living room, using long shutter speeds to compensate for the massive aperture that was needed to get maximum depth of field. This led me to the point of thinking of trying a focus stack.

I got some extra lights and position to light the flower both left and right of the shot, 2 LED bulbs outputting 6000k. In addition I used my SB-700 to fill some of the shadow. I left a lot of the shadow, mainly for different tones in the image for test in stacking.

So without stacking I get images like the below:


While I am happy with the image, the depth of the image is not great, even though it was shot at f16 for 0.5s!

So with a bit of patience I started by focusing on the furthest point I wanted in focus and rotating the focus ring in 1-2mm increments for each photo to get the next part in focus. 14 shots later and a run through a stacker and I get the below:


Which although not incredibly different has certainly got a much larger depth of field than the previous image.

I used Zerene Stacker on a trial basis, but can see me using this in the future so may well be worth a purchase. I will have to compare a few more, I was particularly impressed with how you can see the photo being stacked as it happens, so you see the detail building as it processed the images.

Maybe I’ll pick a better subject next time.

One thing I did take away from this is the stacked image looks a little clinical, I kind of like the way the flower falls out of focus in the first image. Then, with many topics, the subject can make or break an image.