Focus Stacked Orchids
/forum/topic/1066833/0



gregfountain
Registered: Jun 21, 2009
Total Posts: 6657
Country: United States

So on another thread, Karen mentioned the merits of focus stacking, and it got me motivated to give it another go with the Nikon 105 Micro 2.8 VR lens that was the topic of the other thread. I used a continuous lamp (a Lowel Pro) that has a diffusion glass insert, shot through an umbrella, with another diffusion panel in front of that (triple diffusion if you will) to keep the highlights in check so I could shoot this at f/9.

I didn't concern myself with the overall composition, nor did I crop it to a standard print ratio. I merely wanted to see how I did with the stack. The focus was concentrated on the front facing blooms.

I applied standard levels adjustments, USM @ 150, 1.2, 1 and applied light NR in Lightroom 3.

Thoughts to the results?

I should also point out that after the focus stacks and adjustments, I had created a 66MB file....



gregfountain
Registered: Jun 21, 2009
Total Posts: 6657
Country: United States

Here's one with a little more composition considered....



pdever
Registered: Oct 13, 2004
Total Posts: 67
Country: United States

nice photo. I wish the flowers didn't look damaged, especially around the edges and the buds look to be blasted (cold damage). I probably have a better eye for orchids than photographs.



gregfountain
Registered: Jun 21, 2009
Total Posts: 6657
Country: United States

pdever wrote:
nice photo. I wish the flowers didn't look damaged, especially around the edges and the buds look to be blasted (cold damage). I probably have a better eye for orchids than photographs.


Thanks. It's been a bit chilly here the past week, so other than crank up the heat to preserve one flower.....I am glad you were able to see enough detail to determine the condition of the blooms and buds!

Greg



douter
Registered: Mar 10, 2010
Total Posts: 11321
Country: United States

Greg:
For comparison sake, do you have one that was not stacked but perhaps closed down for greater dof? I think these are beautiful, but would like to see a comparison to know the value/difference.
Douglas



gregfountain
Registered: Jun 21, 2009
Total Posts: 6657
Country: United States

douter wrote:
Greg:
For comparison sake, do you have one that was not stacked but perhaps closed down for greater dof? I think these are beautiful, but would like to see a comparison to know the value/difference.
Douglas


Hi Doug, yes, the one I posted on this thread near the bottom of the first page, was shot at f/11 in a single shot. Even at f/32, this particular lens still has a narrow DoF when focused at less than 24" (my DoF calculator reports a focal range of 2.11" with the sweet spot at 1.01") and in order to get enough light for the darker regions, without blowing the highlights, I'd have to crank up the ISO past acceptable levels....

Cheers!

Greg



RustyBug
Registered: Feb 02, 2009
Total Posts: 13404
Country: United States

Good stuff Greg ... two different vibes from the stacked DOF vs. the bokeh, both of which work.



AuntiPode
Registered: Aug 05, 2008
Total Posts: 7021
Country: New Zealand

The compo in the second is more interesting. Sweet!



mrchile
Registered: Oct 28, 2009
Total Posts: 2473
Country: United States

The second one is gorgeous. Amazing how sharp you can get with stacking. And how little noise shows up sometimes at high ISO.
It's also weird looking when you miss a focus point somewhere in the middle.
How many shots did you use in your stack Greg? What software?
I've tried this in the past and sometimes it takes forever in CS4 if I use more than 4-5 images.



gregfountain
Registered: Jun 21, 2009
Total Posts: 6657
Country: United States

RustyBug wrote:
Good stuff Greg ... two different vibes from the stacked DOF vs. the bokeh, both of which work.



Thanks Kent!

Greg



gregfountain
Registered: Jun 21, 2009
Total Posts: 6657
Country: United States

AuntiPode wrote:
The compo in the second is more interesting. Sweet!


Thanks Karen!

Greg



gregfountain
Registered: Jun 21, 2009
Total Posts: 6657
Country: United States

mrchile wrote:
The second one is gorgeous. Amazing how sharp you can get with stacking. And how little noise shows up sometimes at high ISO.
It's also weird looking when you miss a focus point somewhere in the middle.
How many shots did you use in your stack Greg? What software?
I've tried this in the past and sometimes it takes forever in CS4 if I use more than 4-5 images.


Thanks John. I used 6 shots for this stack and did the merge with Bridge and Photoshop 5 by opening the six images as layers in PS and then using auto align and auto blend, then merging the layers. I made all the adjustments post merge. As I know you know, lighting is everything, so I attached a shot of my set up for this!

Greg



mrchile
Registered: Oct 28, 2009
Total Posts: 2473
Country: United States

I have more questions for you Greg.
The process is much the same in CS4.
Do you merge the raw files?
I have managed to speed things up a bit by doing a single file edit in ACR, copy and paste the raw settings in bridge, and finally converting the images to be stacked to JPEGs before stacking.
After the stack is merged I then do any tweaks in PS, like level adjustments, etc.
If I try merging RAW files, it takes forever.



tom lozinski
Registered: Jul 14, 2011
Total Posts: 102
Country: United States

It doesn't seem to me to be any sharper than it would be from just stopping down. Everytime I have tried to focus stack in photoshop it just crashes. I haven't shot any orchids for a long time but I recall that there texture isn't that sharp naturally so it might be more informative to try focus stacking something that is naturally sharper (hope that makes sense.)



gregfountain
Registered: Jun 21, 2009
Total Posts: 6657
Country: United States

Tom, it's not a matter of sharpness, it's a matter of getting more of the subject in focus. Stopping down is fine, but with a macro lens shot from a focal distance of less then 24" you still have a very narrow DoF. In fact, it's approximately 2.11" and in the case of these orchids, they are approx. 4" front to back, and thats not including the back buds. The lens I am using is at its sharpest for this range at f/9 to f/11, so that reduces effective focus range....In general, if I back up to three or four feet, then yes, all of the orchid will be in range (stopped down with added light), but then I would have more than desired in the frame, which I would need to crop out...reducing the resolution that I want to achieve by stacking in the first place! Either that or I'm completely off base.

Greg



gregfountain
Registered: Jun 21, 2009
Total Posts: 6657
Country: United States

mrchile wrote:
I have more questions for you Greg.
The process is much the same in CS4.
Do you merge the raw files?
I have managed to speed things up a bit by doing a single file edit in ACR, copy and paste the raw settings in bridge, and finally converting the images to be stacked to JPEGs before stacking.
After the stack is merged I then do any tweaks in PS, like level adjustments, etc.
If I try merging RAW files, it takes forever.


Hi John,

Yes, I am opening the raw files as layers to do the alignment and blending then merge those layers. I'll have to try that technique. So you open one file in ACR, make your adjustments, then you copy the setting. How do you apply them to the selected files in Bridge? I'll have to look at that! I have a fairly fast Mac, but you're right that it does take a bit of time to get each step processed....

Greg



mrchile
Registered: Oct 28, 2009
Total Posts: 2473
Country: United States

Open all of the files in ACR at once. You should be able to open up to 9 without much trouble.
Make sure all of the files are selected in the thumbnail bar on the left.
Make your adjustments and they will be applied simultaneously to all files.
Then open them in PS and save them as JPEGs.
If you have more then that you can just do ACR adjustments to one file, then click done. In Bridge, right click on the adjusted file and choose Develop Settings > Copy Settings.
Then select the rest of the files you wish to stack and right click > Develop Settings > Paste settings.
Then open them in PS by holding the shift key and double clicking on them.
Convert them to JPEGS, then load them into a stack, by clicking File>Scripts>Load Files Into Stack.
Browse to select the JPEGs you just saved, select all layers, then auto align and blend as usual.
It still takes time, but not as much as RAW files do.
Sometimes I even size them smaller before loading them into a stack.
I only have 4 GB of Ram on my IMAC, so every little thing helps.
HDR's and panos go pretty quickly, but stacks just seem to eat up memory.



gregfountain
Registered: Jun 21, 2009
Total Posts: 6657
Country: United States

mrchile wrote:
Open all of the files in ACR at once. You should be able to open up to 9 without much trouble.
Make sure all of the files are selected in the thumbnail bar on the left.
Make your adjustments and they will be applied simultaneously to all files.
Then open them in PS and save them as JPEGs.
If you have more then that you can just do ACR adjustments to one file, then click done. In Bridge, right click on the adjusted file and choose Develop Settings > Copy Settings.
Then select the rest of the files you wish to stack and right click > Develop Settings > Paste settings.
Then open them in PS by holding the shift key and double clicking on them.
Convert them to JPEGS, then load them into a stack, by clicking File>Scripts>Load Files Into Stack.
Browse to select the JPEGs you just saved, select all layers, then auto align and blend as usual.
It still takes time, but not as much as RAW files do.
Sometimes I even size them smaller before loading them into a stack.
I only have 4 GB of Ram on my IMAC, so every little thing helps.
HDR's and panos go pretty quickly, but stacks just seem to eat up memory.


Thanks John! I'll give that a try!