Ashland Daily Photo
Ashland Daily Photo - A picture a day from beautiful Ashland, Southern Oregon USA in the Rogue Valley
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My first (not entirely successful) focus stack

This past weekend I was hiking on Upper Table Rock. The ground was covered with wildflowers and snow-covered Mt. McLoughlin looked splendid in the distance. So I took this photo of the wildflowers.

foreground focus

foreground focus

But I wanted a photo with Mount McLoughlin in focus so I took another one.

distant focus

distant focus

When I got home I was a bit disappointed in each photo.

My photography and Photoshop skills are completely self taught. I have never taken a class, had a tutor/mentor, or even read a book on either subject. I’ve learned merely by trial and error with my camera and trying different things in Photoshop.

So what I wanted to do was combine the above two photos. I did so by using Photomerge (under File/Automate) in Photoshop and unchecking the “Blend Images Together” option. Hit F7 to see the layers if your layers box isn’t already open. Select both images, and use Auto-Blend Layers (under Edit) to stack the images. The result is below.

photomerge focus stack upper table rock mt mclaughlin

Photomerged focus stack

It’s not perfect, but now I have a new option at my fingertips in the future. Two things I need to do differently:
1) Take more than two photos. Notice how the finished result is out of focus in the middle. Had I taken three or four photos, each with a different focus point, the entire stacked photo could have been in focus.
2) Maintain the same, or nearly the same, composition (and camera settings–shutter speed, ISO, aperture). I recomposed the scene a bit after taking the first image which doesn’t make for the best stacking conditions later in post.

A more recent focus stack of a similar scene can now be found here.

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