Introduction To Focus Stacking

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I’m aware that I’ve not created any “How To” videos for a while and it’s something I hope to spend a little more time over the coming weeks and the first will be discussing Focus Stacking.

As a quick introduction, take a look at the two photos below and you maybe shocked to learn that they are both taken with identical exposure settings.

Aperture f/8 : Shutter 1 second : ISO 64 (Nikon with AF-S 24-70mm f/2.8E @ 44mm)

For those that understand how Aperture size affects Depth of Field, then you will know that it’s impossible to have the much larger Depth of Field in the image on the right. This is because the image on the right is actually made up of 50 separate images merged together in Photoshop. Each image has a different focus point meaning that the final blended image has everything in focus.

So, why not just have a much smaller aperture (higher f-number) to increase Depth of Field? Diffraction! In simple terms, this is the effect of light waves interfering with each other as they pass through a smaller opening. This causes image quality and sharpness to decrease. Therefore, taking multiple shots at a better quality and sharper aperture and merging them will result in a much higher quality and sharper image. This is called Focus Stacking.

Macro (close-up) photography greatly benefits from this as achieving a large enough Depth of Field for the subject to be totally in focus is usually impossible.

Nikon introduced a Focus Stacking feature on their Nikon D850 which enables the camera to take multiple shots at different focus points, it doesn’t merge them, you still have merge these shots afterwards during your post-edit. I have been playing with this feature today which is why I have these photos of the Mice, Mouses (What is the plural of a Computer Mouse?). I expect this to become a feature on more cameras but the old fashioned way is to take mulitple photos and change the focus manually between each shot. My example was 50 photos merged, but to be honest, it probably could have been achieved with 4 or 5 photos.

Watch this space as I’ll be making a Focus Stacking video soon and of course, if Aperture, Depth of Field and Exposure is something that you would like to learn more about, why not attend one of my Digital Photography Fundamentals Workshops?

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