Focus Stacking For Landscape Photography

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.

  1. File >> Scripts >> Load Files Into Stack
    1. Load files or load from open
    2. Check to automatically align the source images
  2. Highlight all the layers
  3. Edit >> Auto-Blend Layers
    1. Select stack images
    2. Check seamless tones and colors
  4. 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.

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