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Most professional photographers use powerful focus stacking techniques to achieve a greater depth of sharpness in the images. In this article, we’ll explore this thing closer and share useful tips that will help you take the art of photography to a high level.
Have you ever experienced the aesthetic pleasure of incredibly detailed shots? Every element, whether it be a snow-capped mountain, a capturing portrait mole, or the exquisite fabric texture in a macro shot of a branded product, seems to be incredible. How do the photographers manage to achieve such results? The secret is using focus stacking. What is it and how to use this technique in different types of photography to get beautiful tack-sharp images? You’ll find out about it in our article.
Focus Stacking (photo layering) is something resembling an HDR image, with its characteristic color vibrancy and detail. Such an effect is created by taking three separate photos with different exposures and then combining them into a single cohesive image with HDR photo software.
In the case of staking, you also take several shots of the same scene and merge them into one visual content. The main difference is that here objects are captured in different focuses, that is focal planes, specific areas of the image where the focus is sharp. This gives you a deeper depth of field effect, so your photo looks crisp and clean.
In order to use this technique, you only need three basic things:
By setting the camera to manual mode, you have full control over lens focus, depth of field, and exposure. If you use a tripod, you’ll get more stable images because the camera is steady and doesn’t shake while taking pictures. In addition, it is very convenient for you because you didn’t get tension and fatigue in your body as it usually happens when shooting with your hands. As for image stacking software, it is necessary for focus stacking in photography. Of course, you can use the world-famous Adobe Photoshop or Lightroom for it. But we recommend you pay attention to Luminar Neo.
This AI-powered photo editor has a special focus stacking Extension which makes photo composing simple, convenient, and fast, and the results are flawless. This exciting tool allows you to process up to 100 photos with different depths of field and combine them into a single image. Here perfect sharpness is observed throughout the frame from foreground to background, even if this is a macro shot of a certain flower or action shot. In addition, the program corrects chromatic aberrations and automatically balances the image, taking it to a new level. Luminar Neo, like other software, is perfect for work with different genres: landscape shots, macro photography, and real estate images as well as content with products and food.
At first glance, photo stacking may seem like a complicated process. In fact, everything is very simple. When you’re in a certain location, whether it’s a national park, a garden, or a studio, you take several shots focusing on the foreground, middle, and background. Then just blend them in an online image editor to get sharpness in each part. How many photos can be captured if you use focus stacking? This depends on the main object, the complexity of the composition, and the depth of field you want to achieve as a result. Three photos may be enough to get perfect clarity. You can also combine more images. But in this case, be prepared to spend more time.
It’s worth mentioning that you should be well-versed in the concept of the focal plane to achieve the desired result. By correctly setting the focus on the desired object and adjusting the depth of field, you’ll create the desired effect.
This technique is extremely popular among photographs for a reason. It has the following significant benefits:
This technique is quite useful when you can’t achieve incredible sharpness across the entire image using the current camera settings. Most often problems with depth of field occur when shooting landscape, interior, product photography, and ultra-close macro shots.
However, there are cases where you can safely do without this technique. In particular, if you're shooting portraits, a slight blur in the background creates a very nice bokeh that makes the subject stand out. And when you're shooting wide-angle landscapes, you just need to set up a wide-angle lens and narrow the aperture to keep the whole scene in focus.
To get started, prepare everything you need for the creative process, including the camera with a manually focused lens, the tripod, and the best photography software (Luminar Neo, Photoshop, Lightroom, or Helicon Focus). And then go through the entire process from shooting to composing images on a computer step by step.
You know what is image stacking, how is it work, and how to prepare photos. How it's time to move on to the most magical part of this technique, namely combining the shots into a composite image. For it, we’ll use such AI photo editors as Luminar Neo:
Follow these tips to get outstanding image stacking results and help you incorporate focus staking into your workflow in the best way:
Combining multiple photos into one clear image is a great technique. But as practice shows, some issues happen, especially among beginners. So, what mistakes should be avoided:
So, as you can see, focus stack is a pretty powerful and interesting technique that makes photos sharper with a focus on details, and professionalism. To master it, you just need to learn the basics, the main mistakes to avoid, and develop your skills in editing software such as Luminar Neo, Photoshop, Lightroom, or others, and expand your creativity.
This technique combines several images with different focus points into one sharp and clear image.
Everything is very simple: set the camera to manual mode and place it on a sturdy tripod, make settings on the camera, and take the first shot, focusing on the nearest point. Then take a series of shots with changing focus points and combine the images into one complete picture with the focus stacking software.
Bracketing is a shooting stage in which several images are taken with different focus points. At the same time, stacking is a post-processing stage where all these images are combined.
It all depends on the complexity of the scene and the stacking software in which you process photos. By equipping yourself with the necessary knowledge about what is photo stacking and practicing regularly, you will realize that you have a powerful tool in your hands that is intuitive, easy, and fast to work with.
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