FOCUS STACK

Sony a7Riv & 16-35mm f/2.8 G Master

30 seconds | f/8.0 | ISO 200

2 images focus stacked in Photoshop

What is focus stacking?

Focus stacking is the process of merging images of the exact same composition and framing, but at different focus points, to achieve a much broader depth of field and ensure the entire image is in focus.

 

Why focus stack?

The main purpose is to ensure sharp focus throughout the image, and is generally required when there is a very close foreground element within the image where the background needs to be sharp too. Even at a higher aperture it would be hard to achieve sharp focus across the whole image; focus stacking is a way to achieve this.

 

Method

Normally only 2 or 3 images are required to ensure all elements of a landscape image are in focus and sharp.

Make sure you are shooting on a tripod so the images with different focus points maintain the same composition and framing. Shoot with the same settings to ensure consistency with each image.

The images can then be stacked in Photoshop using the following method:

  • Open your images as layers

  • Hopefully you'll have consistency with your image alignment but to double check you could select all layers and "Auto-Align Layers" through the edit tab

  • Select all layers to "Auto-Blend Layers" within the edit tab

  • Choose "Stack Images"and make sure "Seemless Tones and Colours"is checked

  • If there are parts of an image you do not want Photoshop to look at when trying to focus stack you can add a layer mask and mask these areas off before going through the blend process

The example image shown is made up of two images, one focused on the background, and the other focused on the foreground. You can see where Photoshop has calculated and merged the two images with the areas of sharpest focus.

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© Hakan Nedjat Photography [ landscape astroscape cityscape photographer milkyway macro wildlife canvas prints art photography photo new zealand nz astro city auckland nature fine art milky way ]