1st attempt at Focus Stacking

My love of VC has turned me into an amateur photographer.  I've been reading about a technique of macro shots called Focus Stacking.  One takes multiple pictures with all the exact same settings, except for a different focal point.  Then software stiches it all together to create one photo where everything is in focus.  (Those of us that take watch macro pictures, especially movements, know that when you focus on one section of the watch...the rest becomes blurry due to the depth of field, especially when the movment is not all in one focus plane).

This is my second, and quick, attempt at focus stacking (first attempt was a miserable failure).  It is made up of 20 pictures in a 5x4 grid.  My technique obviously needs a lot of work, but just to give you a sense of what can be done:

1st attempt at Focus Stacking

You can tell by the edges (strap and lugs) that the movement was at an angle from the camera lens so the top of the picture was further away from the lens than the lower part of the picture.  This would normally make only a portion of the movement in focus, while the rest would be blurry.  Hopefully you can see that the entire movement is pretty much in focus.


Re: 1st attempt at Focus Stacking
11/16/2015 - 11:21

Thank you for the interesting demonstration Dan. Good to know for those of us who like to have some pictures of our watches. The other way would be to use a tilt and shift lense that would allow you to place the plane of focus on the movement even if you take the picture under an angle. But this would be a bigger investment than using a simple lens and doing the stiching. Is the stiching done on the PC or in the camera ?

Regards, Stefan

Its a separate piece of SW on my Mac
11/16/2015 - 12:43

It's called Zarene Stacker, and it is available for Windows and OSX. 

There are others as well, I decided on this one.

My camera can take 3 different pictures in what they call "focus bracketing", but its not enough to do focus stacking.

Best Regards, Dan

This result looks great to me
11/16/2015 - 12:50

I have often wondered how "regular" photographers accomplish some of the lovely movement (and dial) photographs that I have seen.  I know that perspective control lenses (often used in architecture, as well) do this, but they are not often used by hobbyists.  I think your photo is really excellent.  Looks great.

I have an idea of something that would look quite great, but I don't know if the software would allow it.

It would be very interesting to only stack a certain area of the frame (the movement, in this example) and allow the rest of the frame to use only one focal depth.  That would really make the movement "pop" from the background - like a shallow depth of field , wide-aperture photo does.  I would envision it like "masking" - select a certain part of the frame, then stack only that and keep the rest from the initial source frame.  That could produce some quite interesting results.

i think is possible
11/16/2015 - 13:01

I believe post-processing can create that effect (always easier to blur what is in focus, than to make sharp what is blurry).  Though the quality of the bokeh may not be as good as professional photographers can get.

I still use Photoshop Elemsnts 2011 and "auto fix",  as I don't know how else to use post processing software. :-(

Cool tip, thanks Dan
11/16/2015 - 17:12


Beautiful image - you controlled reflections well too nt
11/16/2015 - 20:42
Re: 1st attempt at Focus Stacking
11/17/2015 - 17:54

Nice work, Dan

You are correct about the stacker software, quite a few out there.

I think, but am not certain that there is one built into Photoshop and/or Lightroom but I haven't tried stacking yet. DxO also has this feature.

It's a great technique to know if you are doing any macro work.

Thanks, Dan


Another attempt
11/18/2015 - 06:57

Thanks JB,

I shoot jpeg because I don't know how to process RAW files in Photoshop, Lightroom, etc. I recently learned about DxO whiile researching lenses and testing (DxOMark).

Here is another attempt with a watch that I usually have trouble with (monochrome, engraving, crystal). It is a stack of 34 photos.   The original picture looks better, before the file size and resolution were reduced online.

Another attempt