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

Digital SLR Photography - - Contents -

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.

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