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Focus stacking with Photoshop

Posted by Merco_61, 19 March 2017 · 712 views

Hey Peter...

Very nice... I'm curious about your technique here. Care to elaborate?

It is a focus stack. I shoot one frame focused on the nearest point I want to be sharp and then move the camera forward a little bit to shoot the next one and so on until I have shot everything I want sharp. For a deep stack like this, a really sturdy tripod, head and focusing rail are absolutely necessary.

After shooting comes the time consuming part, at least when doing these without the expensive specialized stacking software solutions. Import the files as layers in PS using the File>Automate>Photomerge tool with none of the boxes at the bottom checked. When this is done, select all the layers and go to Edit>Auto-Blend Layers. Choose the Stack Images option. You might have to dig into the stack and adjust some of the layer masks to get rid of strange artifacts where PS has identified unsharp elements as sharp and included them. When this is done, flatten visible before you crop as you *will* get pixel-wide misalignments somewhere in the stack if you don't.

Handling a deep stack is easier if you have Zerene Stacker or Helicon Focus. You don't even absolutely have to have a rail as refocusing between frames works well with the more advanced alignment algorithms in the specialized applications. I mostly use Zerene, but decided to try PS during this week.

Source: One week, one camera, one lens week ending March 19 2017