Sunday, November 4, 2012

First Time Trying Focus Stacking (Muir Woods National Monument)

I recently took a trip to both Muir Woods National Monument and Sausalito (pretty close together). That day at Muir Woods National Monument, I tried to do focus stacking when I noticed I can't get everything in focus when I wanted to get close up to the mushrooms growing in the park. I am here to show you the results I got! :) I used my Canon 600EX-RT in all of these photos along with a Fotodiox Softbox. If you want to see the rest of my Muir Woods National Monument photos, you can do so here. If you want to see my Sausalito photos, you can do so here.

The mushrooms you see in this blog post are called Turkey Tail Mushrooms (Trametes versicolor). The mushrooms are not poisonous and are edible. It has been used for a very long time in herbal medicine to help boost the immune system and help prevent/treat cancer. Clinical studies have shown this mushroom does help kill off cancerous cells and help a person recover.

Second introduction here is on focus stacking. If you are a pro and know what focus stacking is, great! If not, let me teach you. If you are just learning photography, you should know the amount of stuff you can get in focus, decreases as you get closer to the subject. The amount of things you can get focuses is called your depth-of-field. The farther away you are from the subject, the more you can get in focus in front of it and in the back of it, the closer you are to a subject, the less you can get in focus. To help you understand this, I actually have a Youtube video on depth-of-field that you can watch here. Sadly, this means that the closer you get, the less of your subject will be in focus! So how do you get the whole thing to focus? You take multiple shots at different focuses and combine them later in Photoshop! I'll teach you how to do this at the end of this blog post.

Full Resolution Photos and Prints: If you want to see full resolution photos or buy prints of any of the photos you see, they are up on my portfolio for viewing. To see my best Muir Woods National Monument photos for 2012, use this link. To see my best Sausalito photos, use this link. To see all of my photos from this trip, use this link.

 I think this is the best photo I took at the park. 

The tree stump of a fallen tree. Sure a lot of mushrooms!  

Some mushrooms and moss growing on a tree. 

These are all the focus stacked photos I took at Muir Woods National Monument, and like I said above, I will teach you how to do this.

Settings on your camera:
  • Aperture Priority (Av or A)
  • Narrow aperture
How to take your photos for focus stacking:
  1. Plug a remote shutter release into  your camera and set your camera on your tripod. Make sure it is far enough to focus on the closest part you want to focus on! If you are using a flash, try to set it on a light stand or hold it steady. Moving the flash slightly between shots is fine. 
  2. Take a photo, focus a bit farther, take another, and continue to do this until you get all the parts you want in focus. 
How to combine them in Photoshop:
  1. If you did them in RAW, drag all 3 into Photoshop and process them in the same manner, then open them up in Photoshop. If you did them in JPEG, go ahead and just open them in Photoshop. 
  2. File >> Scripts >> Load Files into Stack... >> Add Open Files (Make sure "Attept to Align Source Images" is checked) >> OK
  3. Select All Layers in the Layers Panel
  4. Edit >> Auto-Blend Layers >> Check Mark "Stack Images" and "Seamless Tones and Colors" and press OK
  5. After Photoshop is done, make sure you crop out some of the borders that show up on the side (due to the different focuses), and then save and you are done! 
I hope you have enjoyed the photos and the tutorial! I will be posting the other photos I took on this trip soon, and the links will be at the top of this blog post. Please don't forget to share my blog posts with your friends! If you would like to get notifications next time I post, you can "Like" me on Facebook or follow me on Twitter and Google+. These links can also be found on the top of the right sidebar.

See the rest of my Muir Woods National Monument photos here. See my Sausalito photos here.