Focus Stacking

This week I wanted to write about a photography technique that I recently started playing with that I learned during my recent View Camera Theory class.

Every seen a photo in a magazine ad for a new watch or other small item and wondered “How do they get the entire item in such sharp focus?” They use a technique called Focus Stacking so that every part of that Rolex is in razor sharp focus, from the numbers and hands on the watch to the band attached to it.

Focus Stacking is where you set your camera up on a tripod so you are nice and stable, then you shoot the product or item, changing your focus point but not moving the camera or changing the focal length. This first image is actually a series of shots and in each one, a different item is in focus.

By shooting multiple captures on the product with a different part in focus each time and them combining them in Photoshop, you end up with a finished image that had every part of the watch in sharp focus with high detail.

Once you have captured your images, import them into Lightroom and then go to the Develop module and activate your Len Profile Correction. Once you have that done then select all of the images in the group that you shot and select the Photo menu item, then go down and select “Open as Layers in Photoshop.”

Once they are opened in Photoshop, select all of the Layers at once, then click the Edit Menu and choose Auto-Align Layers. Then when that has completed, click the Edit menu again and choose Auto-Blend Layers. When the process has completed, you will have a single new image where everything is in sharp focus and with high details. This second image is the five shots from above, merged into a focus stacked single image.

Now all you have to do is save the new image and you are done. Focus Stacking is a lot of fun and can give you fantastic results, so grab your cable release and tripod and give Focus Stacking a try!