focus stacking

All posts tagged focus stacking

You don’t find rainbows on and under the leaves. Other colorful and not so colorful stuff you do.
This little bug(ger) was very patient and let me do my thing for about 10 minutes, before taking of. I guess it thought that after turning left, right and face front I must’ve got all there was to shoot of it. And I did.

Fly sitting on a leaf

D800, ISO1600, 1/350 sec @ f/4, Nikkor 105mm

Fly sitting on a leaf

D800, ISO400, 1/180 sec @ f/4, Nikkor 105mm

And then this weird thing… We were heading out of the woods and I happened to spot it crawling around on a leaf. Funky stuff going on in those tentacles/antennas (whatever you call them). I thought it was some sort of thing to lure or keep away other animals. It really looked like there was a maggot inside of them moving up and down. When I was keywording for stock and searched for the snail with maggot like antennas I came across the Wikipedia page where it was explained that this snail was infected with a parasite. It’s originally in bird poop, where the snail eats from and ingests the parasite. The parasite then starts to consume the snail slowly and it nestles in the tentacles, basically switching off the snails ability to determine whether it’s light or dark, so it doesn’t know whether to hide or not, thus being a nice little prey for birds, who then consume the snail including parasite, which returns to the digestive system of the bird and ends up in the bird poop, where another snail east from and ingests the parasite. Etc. etc. etc. Amazing how nature does its thing, isn’t it?

Snail infected with a parasite in its tentacles

D800, ISO400, 1/350 sec @ f/4.8, Nikkor 105mm

Another parasite, or pest, plague, if you like, is this one.

Sack of the tent caterpillar hanging under a tree trunk

D800, ISO100, 1/250 sec @ f/5.6, Tamron 90mm, on-camera flash

The caterpillar makes some sort of web around the entire tree and eats it completely empty. The web is funny stuff. It feels like plastic, the kind of plastic they vacuum-wrap food and other products in, and it’s super strong. It doesn’t feel at all sticky like a spider’s web. This image doesn’t really do it justice, but the light was beautiful, especially reflecting off of the webs. Destructive as it is, it does look really pretty.

Webs of the tent caterpillar in the branches of a tree

D800, ISO200, 1/750 sec @ f/4, Nikkor 70-200mm

And then there was still this little fellow, who at first I thought was dead, but then regained consciousness and took off. I did get my pictures, though 🙂

Bumble bee on a thistle

D800, ISO800, 1/350 sec @ f/4, Tamron 90mm

The bee photo is a focus stack of 10 images. I wanted the whole flower and the bee in focus and since the little guy played dead for awhile, it gave me all the time to get enough images to do the focus stacking.

My friend was kind enough to lend me his new Nikkor 105mm macro with VR. I have a Tamron 90mm (it’s about 8 years old, I think, and my only non-Nikkor lens) and I’ve been considering for awhile already to switch. I never got to try it out, though, even if a couple of my photographer-buddies have offered to lend it to me. This day I did give it a go, and I must honestly admit that, with the images that I shot, there’s not much difference in quality and sharpness. One clear difference is that the Nikkor focuses at least twice as fast. The Tamron really needs a clear contrast in the image for the autofocus to properly lock on. If there isn’t enough contrast, the lens keeps on searching and you get the annoying buzz of the lens zooming in and out to try to find something to focus on (and your object/subject/target will probably have left by the time you decide to switch to manual). So in terms of quality I would stick with my Tamron. The massive price of the Nikkor doesn’t justify the switch for me. I know when to autofocus and when to manually focus, so that’s no issue for me. However… If someone would have a (good as new) Nikkor for a good price up for sale, I would probably still get rid of the Tamron and buy the Nikkor.

I can never get enough from cross-processing images (or HDR images, for that matter). I’ve done a focus-stacking mini-tutorial before, and I know there’s only so many times you can do a tutorial, so I won’t explain everything in detail again, but I still wanted to show this example with another subject/object than a flower.

A week or so ago I posted some pictures of a water tap with a droplet falling. I took a good number of shots, and I thought it’d be a nice one to do a focus stacking with. The nice thing about that image -I think- was the narrow DoF, and that was at the same time the pain in the ass, because it made focusing really critical. Since with a subject like this it’s impossible to get everything in focus in one shot, I took a series of shots and put them together in Photoshop (CS6, I upgraded! And loving it! 🙂 ).

Here are the originals:

Focus stacking originals

D800, ISO1600-ISO3200, 1/350 sec @ f/3.8-4.5, Tamron 90mm macro, 2x off-camera SB-800

I messed around with it a bit. Typically you *should* keep the settings the same and just refocus (and basically the whole thing is underexposed with 1,5-2 stops, but well… New camera, great low-light performance, etc. etc. Need to do some testing every now and again.

Brought them all into Photoshop and after it (the focus stacking) and I (the necessary exposure, contrast and color adjustments) did the work, the layer palette looked like this:

Layer palette for focus stacking

The layer palette in Photoshop CS6

And the final result; quite a bit different, I can say, isn’t it?

Focus stacking mini tutorial

The end result after all the hard work

There WERE also flowers, of course…

I had a go with the focus stacking in CS5. Works actually surprisingly well, I must say.
The procedure:
1) shoot a number of pictures with different focus points (keep aperture and exposure the same in all images)

Focus stacking images

All 6 images D700, ISO200, 1/250 sec @ f/8, Tamron 90mm macro

2) open images in Photoshop
3) Go to File -> Automate -> Photomerge
4) The window below will appear without the red circles (they are points of attention) and without the filenames in the middle column, but WITH the box “Blend images together” checked by default. That last one is the one you want to uncheck, because you don’t want Photoshop to flatten your image, yet, in case you want to do some adjustments yourself. Click “Add open files” to add the files you opened into the middle column. If you have more files open than the focus stacking requires, you can select and remove them from the list with the remove button.

Photomerge window in PS CS5

Photomerge window in Photoshop CS5

5) Click OK and Photoshop goes to work to put all your separate files together in one layered file.
6) Select all the layers from the layer palette and go to Edit -> Auto Blend Layers. The window below will pop up. Stack images is the default selected, and all you need to do here is…

Focus stacking screenshot

Stack images

7) click OK and Photoshop will go to work for you once again to figure out all the sharp parts in all the layers. It’s quite effective, and at least with the images I tried pretty accurate. After the work you will see something like this in your palette layer, except for the Layer 1 and Layer 2. Those I added afterward for some minor adjustments from my part still (which is why you don’t want Photoshop to blend layers together all the way in the beginning!)

Focus stacking layer palette

The layer structure after Photoshop has processed the images

The end result in my case was this:

Focus stacking

The end result after all the hard labor is done