Back to the stack

A while ago now I posted some articles on my learning curve for macro photography. One such post was this one .

It dealt with the concept of stacking, using multiple images each with restricted depth of field around a different plane of focus and combining them to create one shot with sharpness only on the key subject. The rest of the image is rendered pleasantly (hopefully) out of focus. It is quite common in studio work, less so in the field as even the slightest breeze can ruin the sequence. All the images have to align perfectly.

Well here is today’s effort. Shot in the field of course 🙂

This is 15 photographs blended in Helicon Focus. It can be done in Photoshop but PS takes far too long for me. I have zero patience and if I can get the job done in 30 seconds I see no reason to faff about whilst Photoshop allows me to watch paint dry.

Oxalis corymbosa

Oxalis corymbosa

I think it turned out ok but I’d like feedback.

NB: Following feedback I have substituted a slightly cropped version to take out a distracting leaf.

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29 thoughts on “Back to the stack

  1. Really wonderful macro work, Andrew. This is something I’ve never had the patience for, nor have I gotten it to work well, although I will occasionally blend focus points for larger-scale landscape work.

    My only nit would be that slightly in focus leaf at the very bottom of the frame…the way it abruptly goes OOF looks a bit unnatural. Otherwise, great work!

  2. Wonderful job Andrew. The dew drops on the flowers are beautiful. It’s a bit rich for me to critique any of your images, but the leaf (already noted in a comment) is distracting.

  3. For a moment I thought this post was going to be about you having to take a job in a supermarket stacking shelves to fund Mrs Ha’s penchant for Manolos. I’m mightily relieved that you are not but like M.R I really don’t have a clue as to how you magicked this glorious image out of 15 shots. It sounds scarily technical. I came to this post too late to see the distracting leaf which has now been whipped away but what’s left looks pretty good to me. I’d love to learn macro photography and make better use of my lens but then the processing sounds so complicated, It might be simpler for me to stack supermarket shelves and be done with it.

    • Don’t worry Lottie. Mrs. Ha has moved on. To Roger Vivier. Boxes of them stacked all over her dressing room. All colour coordinated with her Montcler (?) jackets. Shelf stacking is just around the corner.

      • That sounds like a mighty fine collection of shoes, good for Mrs. Ha. I am so out of the loop fashion wise that I’ve not heard of Roger Vivier, I need to get on to Google fast and see what I am missing……

  4. I’m too late like Lottie. Toooo frustrating not to have seen the original and wondering if it would have jarred with me.

    I don’t understand stacking. How do you combine the photos? It sounds like HDR which halphone 5 does but clearly isn’t. I like the pic, but I also clicked on your linky and loved the first one on there of some type of blossom. Very nice. Please when you do linkies can you click on the little box that says open in separate window and then idiots like me don’t lose the original post?

  5. Yes that is very effective so much so I may study the concept to add to my, albeit limited, skill set.

  6. The flower looks quite excellent,Andrew. I did see the leaf in my email notification. Your crop works well. If I may suggest, finding a small stick to use as a control, a piece of string or some other device is a handy way to eliminate distractions.

  7. The image looks good, the center of both flowers is sharp and in focus.

    As to feedback; being critical I would say that the petals in top flower feel softer than the ones in the bottom, which makes my vision go strange since the centers of both flowers are in focus. I feel if both flowers had the same sharpness then my eyes wouldn’t become so distracted.
    On the positive, the light balance and colours look great, i could get lost in the background blur.

    I love the idea of stacking for focus and really good when you are in a pinch with a tight depth of field.

  8. It’s a knockout! As an ex-sculptor I particularly love the way this give the image a truly 3D quality.

  9. Being a huge fan of selective focus with flowers, I’m not very fond of stacking these subjects – unless it is for documentation. IMO, the image would benefit from the top flower being out of focus (oof as I have learnt the other day 🙂 🙂 ). I have seen a lot of gorgeous images of dragonflies or other – more or less patient – insects where the stacking technique revealed amazing detail. Lots of work though using a focusing rail – and patience 😉

  10. Very nice, now I shall have to try a little light stacking – I have a bad back. I assume Helicon Focus is a software product – I shall look it up as patience is not my middle name or one of my diminishing list of virtues. Great post. Im am so behind in my blog reading, hopefully I can catch up with the stacking lesson quickie.

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