Monday, October 14, 2013

Focus Stacking

A couple of weekends ago I made my annual trip north to Grand Portage for fall colors.  It is a favorite time of year when the summer warmth turns to cool days and cooler nights.  This year was different though as the crazy weather made it made it feel more like summer than fall.  But whose complaining, it was beautiful.

I'm always finding intimate scenes with the fall being great times for mushrooms and other types of fungus.  Getting close to show detail is always the goal but as one gets closer to the subject the depth of field gets narrower and narrower and it's impossible to get the whole subject in focus.  Enter focus stacking.

Focus stacking is taking a number of images of a particular item or scene and changing just one thing that being the focus plane.  Focusing on the nearest, or furthest, point you want in focus you gradually work your focus out taking images along the way.  The idea is to make images such that you capture all parts of the subject in focus.  In the digital darkroom you then blend the in focus parts of each image together in a composite resulting in an in focus image of your subject.  Case in point, the following image was made from 8 individual frames.

Click to see larger image
In this case I used a program called Helicon Focus to combine the images.  It does take some refinement to get the focus just right but the resulting image is pretty cool.