Monthly Program

Chris Moore Presents – Focus Stacking

Christopher Moore

1472 Hammersley Avenue, 2nd floor  Bronx, New York 10469-3025  Cell: (917) 519-3490

What is Focus Stacking and when, where and why might you use it?

Fundamentally, focus stacking is the process of extending the range of sharpness (focus) within a photographed scene or subject (like a flower, landscape or an insect)

Probably the most common method of extending the range of focus within a scene or subject is to stop the lens down and use a smaller aperture (lens opening).

Doing this will increase the depth of field and bring more into focus as you get closer to and farther from the lens.

There is a tradeoff however as you stop the lens way down. Due to the laws of physics and optics diffraction will creep in and degrade the image overall.

A generally accepted fact is that most lenses perform best when they are set two stops smaller than their maximum (largest opening) aperture.

So, if there was a way (there is) that you could extend the range of focus/sharpness and maximize the optical performance of your lens(es), then you could achieve superior focus/sharpness over an extended range throughout your subject/scene.

That is exactly what focus stacking allows you to accomplish. It is possible to create extreme depth of field images at large apertures.

There are a variety of methods, techniques and software solutions that make focus stacking possible and even some of the newer cameras can be configured to automatically create the focus “slices” that can later be assembled in software.

Many of those who have heard of focus stacking think it is used primarily for close-up, extreme close-up and macro photography. This is not true.

Focus stacking, while it can very elegantly create stunning images of close-up and/or macro subjects (like flowers and insects), can also be used in landscape and foreground/background compositions.

One consideration that should be factored into creating focus stacked images is that the subject/scene should be static.

Focus stacking software has a very difficult time aligning focused slices where the subject/scene has moved during the slicing process.

Therefore, if you wish to focus stack moving subjects you must somehow immobilize them for the duration of the focus stacking shooting period.

Insects are sometimes frozen or subjected to carbon dioxide gas-which can temporarily suspend animation. Wind blockers, alligator clips, clothes pins, A-clamps and other restraining devices can be helpful with other types of subjects like flowers.

The camera should be on a sturdy tripod and anything you can do to minimize vibration should be done (like locking the mirror up and/or using a cable release)

Stacked images can be processed in/through LightRoom, PhotoShop, Zerene Stacker and Helicon Focus/Remote. There may be other software solutions for this but, at this time, I’m not aware of them.

There are plenty of online training programs on how to use the software mentioned above to create focus stacked images. Some software does a better job than others but that can vary depending on a variety of factors. A certain amount of experimentation and exploration of different processing options would be a good idea.

I’ve included some examples of focus stacking that I’ve created that, perhaps, will inspire you to give this technique a try.

  • Chris Moore

BIO

Christopher Moore

1472 Hammersley Avenue

Bronx, New York 10469-3025

CELL: (917) 519-3490

E-MAIL: greenmarble@optonline.net

With over twenty years of experience providing world-class photographic services, training and expertise, Christopher Moore possesses a superb set of skills, the latest technology and a creative, responsive eye to create images that get results.

Over the years Christopher Moore has provided his services to an extremely distinguished roster of clients. Among these are Ziff Davis, Morgan Stanley, Dean Witter, Fujifilm, St. John’s University, Germain School of Photography, The New York Institute of Photography, Comstock and many event planners and independent studios.

What sets Christopher Moore apart from the rest?

Studio and location services, 35mm, medium format, sheet film, silver-based and digital services and multi-media production….. on time, on target, and on budget.

Mr. Moore has lectured at the Westchester Photographic Society, the NY Botanical and Zoological Society (Zoo Club), the Wantagh and Flushing Camera Clubs – which are part of the Photographic Federation of Long Island and the Professional Photographers of Greater New York on such topics as: “Everything you ever wanted to know about Wedding Photography but didn’t know who to ask”, “The ins and outs of photographing reflective (metal) and transparent (glass/plastic) objects”, “Lightroom – Optimizing your workflow”, “Focus Stacking”, and “Flash Photography – a comprehensive overview”. Future presentations are scheduled for “Human Perception, Reality, Illusion, and Visual Tricks”

For over 15 years Mr. Moore served on the Board of Directors of the Professional Photographers of Greater New York – where he was Secretary (2 years), Field Trip Chairman and Image Competition Chairperson. He also served as a Section Delegate to the Professional Photographers Society of New York State.

Experienced in:

Event photography, Glamour/Beauty, Commercial, Location, Editorial, Advertising, Architectural, Product, Landscape, Macro, Focus Stacking, Nature/Scenic, Presentation Design and Staging and audio visual and conferencing technology.