The Ultimate Guide to Focus Stacking for Beginners

Photographers usually hate out-of-focus images. But sometimes, the detail of an image can be captured without sharpness. The DOF (Depth of Field) appears shallow which is an interesting aspect of the photos that won’t be sharp. Normally, a smaller aperture increases the depth of field. But moving the aperture away from the lens’s sweet spot causes lens diffraction. That’s why fuzziness appears in the images. Guide to focus stacking for beginners ,In this case, photographers do try to increase ISO to correct the exposure.
This is the time when focus stacking comes into play. You will need to use focus stacking while shooting with the best aperture and shutter speed combination for sharp images. This article will guide you to do focus stacking properly to get sharp images. Keep reading the guide.

Necessary Equipment You will Need

  • Tripod.
  • A DSLR camera that is capable of shooting in manual mode.
  • Depth of field app
  • Photoshop software for post-processing

How to Shoot for Focus Stacking?

Focus stacking is the same as HDR photography. With focus stacking, you can capture images with different focus points and later combine them in Photoshop. Landscape and macro photography are the main categories of this kind. Knowing the lens sweet spot will help before shooting for focus stacking. The spot that produces the sharpest image is known as the lens’s sweet spot. It is usually found about two to three stops from wide open in the lens

The ultimate guide to focus stacking
Guide to focus stacking for beginners is a method where you can capture and blend multiple images of the same subject. Read the beginner’s guide to learn focus stacking and improve your photography.


Shooting Landscapes for Focus Stacking

Two types of photos may benefit from focus stacking in landscape photography. One is a close foreground object with an amazing background. You may want both elements to get sharp images. Another one is when shooting with a telephoto lens and the subject covers multiple distances.

The DOF will be deep enough to capture a sharp image if you shoot a landscape with a wide-angle lens. It won’t require focus stacking and you won’t have to use Photoshop to edit it. If you follow the below trick, you can benefit from focus stacking when photographing a subject.

Focus Stacking Trick

Adjust your focus point into the image. Now start Live View to make the image bigger. Then check to see if the foreground and background are sharp or blurry Guide to focus stacking for beginners . If not then you can benefit from focus stacking to get the desired sharpness.

Techniques to Shoot Landscapes for Focus Stacking

Step 1: Set the camera on a tripod. It is a must and key term to get focus stacked photos. Then frame the subject and compose the shot.

Step 2: Adjust the exposure for the subject and turn the camera into manual mode. This way you can ensure that the exposure is constant for every shot.

Step 3: Set your camera to Live View and keep the focus point at the closest object you want in the frame.

Step 4: Switch to manual focus to fine-tune for sharpness if needed. Now take the first exposure and then move your camera focal point to an object mid-way in the image and refocus. Now take the second exposure.

Step 5: Without changing any settings take the third and fourth exposure by refocusing an object at the farthest point of the desired image.

Step 6: Follow the rule of thumb. And add more images for longer focal lengths. Check the DOF with a Smartphone app to figure out how many images will be necessary. 



Techniques to Shoot Macro for Focus Stacking

The macro lenses create an extremely shallow depth of field. And macro photography allows focus stacking more than any other type of photography. Here are some techniques to shoot macros for focus stacking. Read the rest of the article to learn the techniques.

  • Use a tripod when doing macro photography. Especially if you want them for focus stacking. 
  • Find out the proper exposure for the subject. Then set the camera to manual mode and keep the exposure the same for every image. Now frame the subject and compose the shot.
  • Use ‘Live View’ mode and aim the focus point on the nearest object. 
  • Record the first one.
  • Without changing any settings or moving the camera, place the focus point slightly away from the lens.
  • Do this step again many times as needed to cover every aspect of the subject’s DOF.
  • Ensure the entire subject is captured. For precaution check a DOF app on your android phone.



Processing Final Images

The final task for focus stacking is processing the image parts in photoshop. It is a little tricky and only experts can do it smoothly. See the process of how experts process images for focus stacking here.

  • First, open all the images in Adobe Photoshop.
  • Open every photo on a separate layer. Then go to file and choose ‘Scripts and Load Files into Stack’. Now select all the images here.
  • After loading the images click OK and every image will open into a new layer.
  • Now select all layers from the layer palette.
  • Now go to the edit menu and select Auto-Blend Layers from below the edit menu.
  • Click on the check box for Stack Images.
  • Now allow content-aware fill, which will fill any transparent areas generated by aligning images. 
  • Then click ok and choose to Flatten the image by selecting Layer>Flatten Image.
  • Now save and export your focus stacked images.

Is Focus stacking cheating?

No, focus stacking is not cheating. It is a standard method to enhance the signal to noise ratio. It increases the smoothness from the graininess in the image background.


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