Focus stacking is a technique used during the act of capturing photographs and also while post processing a photograph.
During this process, the photograph is capturing multiple images using different focus points. However, the exposure and focal length (zoom) remains the same.
Focus stacking is a digital image processing technique which combines multiple images taken at different focus distances to give a resulting image with a greater depth of field (DOF) than any of the individual source images. Focus stacking can be used in any situation where individual images have a very shallow depth of field; macro photography and optical microscopy are two typical examples. – Wikipedia
Many times, the technique is used for macro photography. In fact, Don Komarechka is a fantastic photographer who captures some of the best snowflake photographs I have ever seen. Don uses the focus stacking technique for improved focus throughout the photographs.
I use focus stacking for some landscape and long exposure photographs. Doing so allows me to capture a clearer photograph from near to far, and in some ways bring out a more realistic look and with a stunning depth of field.
The main reason I use focus stacking for landscape photography is because shallow depth of field can hurt a landscape photograph whereas deep depth of field works extremely well.
Focus Stacking Tutorial
As you can see, currently I use Photoshop for focus stacking. There are other software options out there, but none of which I already own aside from Photoshop. My gut feeling is that companies like onOne Software will add the feature to their software. Heck, focus stacking almost belongs in onOne’s Perfect Layers. I could even see Adobe adding focus stacking into the Lightroom toolset. Especially since once the layers are masked you don’t actually need to disable a layer (typically). Time will tell though.
Until that happens, I still have a reason to open Photoshop.
Focus Stacking in Photoshop
Photoshop does make it fairly simple to create a focus stacked photograph.
- File >> Scripts >> Load Files Into Stack
- Load files or load from open
- Check to automatically align the source images
- Highlight all the layers
- Edit >> Auto-Blend Layers
- Select stack images
- Check seamless tones and colors
- Do any necessary cropping
The photograph above is an example of a focus stacked image. The same one you viewed in the video.
I hope to have an in the field video showing how I would frame and focus for this technique.
Thanks for reading and happy shooting,
PS. If you want to see another video on Focus Stacking, check out this one from Photofocus.