PHOTO SKILLS: FOCUS STACKING
FOCUS STACKING IS A SKILL MORE COMMONLY ASSOCIATED with MAXIMISING DEPTH- OF- FIELD IN MACRO IMAGES. JAMES ABBOTT SHARES THIS GREAT METHOD FOR GIVING FRONT- TO- back SHARPNESS IN your LANDSCAPES
Expand depth- of- field in your shots by learning how to focus stack images together. Here’s how to shoot it…
Y ou’ve probably heard this a million times: to ensure extensive depth- of- field when shooting landscapes, use a small aperture and focus on a point one third of the way into the scene. This is of course true, and working to this simple rule provides you with images that are sharp in most areas, and acceptably sharp in others. But what can you do to achieve absolute pin- sharpness from a metre away all the way to the background?
The simple answer is focus stacking. This is a technique where you shoot two or three images focused on the foreground, middle ground and background. These are then blended together in photoshop so that the whole image is perfectly sharp throughout. What’s more, with this technique you can usually shoot at the lens’s ‘ sweet spot’ of f/ 11- f/ 13, which gives you the highest level of sharpness possible. Shooting at the ‘ sweet spot’ doesn’t give the most depthof- field, but is the point before diffraction begins to creep into images, softening detail, as you stop down the aperture.
you may be wondering why you’d need to take such drastic measures to ensure a large depth- of- field when shooting with a wide- angle lens. Wide- angles produce the most depth- of- field of all lenses, right? In reality almost all lenses produce the same depth- of- field if set to the same aperture. But it’s the narrower field- of- view of telephoto lenses that gives the impression of a shallower depth- of- field than with a wide- angle that produces a wide field- ofview. If you crop an image taken with the latter to match the crop of a telephoto, you’ll find that they’re near identical.