First attempt at photo stacking

Started Apr 19, 2013 | Discussions
Tommy tek
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First attempt at photo stacking
Apr 19, 2013

Grape Hyacinth

This is my first try at stacking. 8 frames stacked with zarine stacker.

camera Sony a33

lens Tamron 60mm Macro

I am pleased with the results, but I am wide open on suggestions on how to do it better.

Thanks

Tom

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Sony SLT-A57 Sony a6000 Tamron SP AF 10-24mm F/3.5-4.5 Di II LD Aspherical (IF) Tamron SP AF 60mm F/2 Di II LD IF Macro Tamron 18-270mm F/3.5-6.3 Di II PZD +1 more
Sony SLT-A33
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KEVZPHOTOS
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Re: First attempt at photo stacking
In reply to Tommy tek, Apr 20, 2013

Hi Tommy,

It's certainly a good result for a first time attempt.

The image does look somewhat noisy-grainy when viewed in the larger size.

For shots like this you wanna shoot at base ISO (100 or 50)...and for a flower that depth (I'm guessing that it was probably at least 8-10 cms deep.....one would normally require more than 8 shots to capture the entire DOF adequately with enough "overlap" between images.

Even with stacking, I would shoot at f/16 and take at least 20 images with a subject like that.

On this blade of grass I used 37 images - for example.

http://kvincentphotography.ca/stackedimages/h3da2bbe#h3da2bbe

http://kvincentphotography.ca/stackedimages

Just keep doing it...practice makes perfect.

Please also note - applying "selective lighting" in post is crucial on these kind of flower images, stacked or otherwise.

KEV

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"No problem can be solved at the level of consciousness which created it" - Albert Einstein

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Tommy tek
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Re: First attempt at photo stacking
In reply to KEVZPHOTOS, Apr 20, 2013

Thanks Kevin.

Some of the noise may be from my post processing after the image came out of Zerene stacker. I also did not have a lot of light to work with. I checked out your gallery and I am truly impressed. I need to move up to a camera with a better sensor. I will stay with the Sony line though. I don't want to change all my lenses and accessories for a different brand. Your comments are exactly the type of response I was looking for. What do you mean by selective lighting? I did add some fill light, because the shadows were really dark in the original. I am using Photoshop Elements it may not have all of the tools you use.

Thanks again

Tom

 Tommy tek's gear list:Tommy tek's gear list
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KEVZPHOTOS
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Re: First attempt at photo stacking
In reply to Tommy tek, Apr 20, 2013

Tommy tek wrote:

Thanks Kevin.

Some of the noise may be from my post processing after the image came out of Zerene stacker. I also did not have a lot of light to work with. I checked out your gallery and I am truly impressed. I need to move up to a camera with a better sensor. I will stay with the Sony line though. I don't want to change all my lenses and accessories for a different brand. Your comments are exactly the type of response I was looking for. What do you mean by selective lighting? I did add some fill light, because the shadows were really dark in the original. I am using Photoshop Elements it may not have all of the tools you use.

Thanks again

Tom

Selective light in today's digital realm or dodge n burn in the old film era.

There are different ways to achieve this via brush-layers in Photoshop....or the best way with Capture NX2...using the colour control points and selection tools.

Fill light (or D-Lighting adjustments) are of course necessary to balance the luminosity across the frame.

However, with flowers or any still-life image for that matter...we need to add "selective" lighting to various areas/regions of the subject...in order to bring out the shadows and expose detail, balance luminosity, etc.

As a studio still-life shooter...I couldn't do without this editing functionality.

Even IF you don't shoot Nikon and use NEF files I would highly recommend getting that programme for editing TIFF's. The U-Point technology that Nik uses is extremely good.

The Viveza 2 plugin in for PS Elements also has the 'colour control points' which you can use for selective lighting....but it does not have the "selection" tools...like in CNX2.

KEV

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william brennan
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Re: First attempt at photo stacking
In reply to KEVZPHOTOS, May 12, 2013

Kev,

your flowers are breast taking!!! Love your photos and you blog. It is very nice of you to take your time to help those of us just starting to try something new.

bill

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http://www.flickr.com/photos/billse-300/
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Gpruitt54
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Re: First attempt at photo stacking
In reply to KEVZPHOTOS, May 15, 2013

KEVZPHOTOS wrote:

Hi Tommy,

It's certainly a good result for a first time attempt.

The image does look somewhat noisy-grainy when viewed in the larger size.

For shots like this you wanna shoot at base ISO (100 or 50)...and for a flower that depth (I'm guessing that it was probably at least 8-10 cms deep.....one would normally require more than 8 shots to capture the entire DOF adequately with enough "overlap" between images.

Even with stacking, I would shoot at f/16 and take at least 20 images with a subject like that.

On this blade of grass I used 37 images - for example.

http://kvincentphotography.ca/stackedimages/h3da2bbe#h3da2bbe

http://kvincentphotography.ca/stackedimages

Just keep doing it...practice makes perfect.

Please also note - applying "selective lighting" in post is crucial on these kind of flower images, stacked or otherwise.

KEV

-- hide signature --

"No problem can be solved at the level of consciousness which created it" - Albert Einstein

WoW! I want to try this. Would I be right to assume that all these shots are done indoors with studio lighting?  On the blade of grass, how did you prevent the water drop from sliding down the blade as you were shooting?  What are you adjusting the F stops or your focus.

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Duncan C
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Re: First attempt at photo stacking
In reply to william brennan, May 16, 2013

william brennan wrote:

Kev,

your flowers are breast taking!!! Love your photos and you blog. It is very nice of you to take your time to help those of us just starting to try something new.

Breast taking? LOL! I think you mean "breathtaking", although I rather like "breast taking."

bill

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E510 with two lens kit, E-300 and battery grip, E1 and battery grip, 14-45mm, 40-150mm, 50mm macro, ex25, 14-54mm. Fl50 flash.
Canon 60D

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KEVZPHOTOS
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Re: First attempt at photo stacking
In reply to Gpruitt54, May 16, 2013

Gpruitt54 wrote:

KEVZPHOTOS wrote:

Hi Tommy,

It's certainly a good result for a first time attempt.

The image does look somewhat noisy-grainy when viewed in the larger size.

For shots like this you wanna shoot at base ISO (100 or 50)...and for a flower that depth (I'm guessing that it was probably at least 8-10 cms deep.....one would normally require more than 8 shots to capture the entire DOF adequately with enough "overlap" between images.

Even with stacking, I would shoot at f/16 and take at least 20 images with a subject like that.

On this blade of grass I used 37 images - for example.

http://kvincentphotography.ca/stackedimages/h3da2bbe#h3da2bbe

http://kvincentphotography.ca/stackedimages

Just keep doing it...practice makes perfect.

Please also note - applying "selective lighting" in post is crucial on these kind of flower images, stacked or otherwise.

KEV

-- hide signature --

"No problem can be solved at the level of consciousness which created it" - Albert Einstein

WoW! I want to try this. Would I be right to assume that all these shots are done indoors with studio lighting?

Yup, your assumption would be right.

On the blade of grass, how did you prevent the water drop from sliding down the blade as you were shooting?

I fixed  the water drop to the blade of grass with super glue so it wouldn't move.

( errh, no - that's a lie  )

I can't remember, but I probably had the blade almost in the horizontal position...so the water drop couldn't fall off...and then flipped the image 90 degrees to present it.

What are you adjusting the F stops or your focus.

One never adjusts the F stop when stacking....you simply use a focus rail to shift the entire camera rig...about 1mm at a time. One also never adjusts the focus....it stays constant.

Here's my blog article with the basics:

http://kvincentphotography.ca/blog/2012/1/focus-stacking

KEV

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"No problem can be solved at the level of consciousness which created it" - Albert Einstein

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Gpruitt54
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Re: First attempt at photo stacking
In reply to KEVZPHOTOS, May 23, 2013

Hay Thanks for the information. I will check out the link and learn how this is done.
I always come away from this site, knowing something I did not know before.  Amazing!

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Gpruitt54
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Re: First attempt at photo stacking
In reply to Duncan C, May 23, 2013

Duncan C wrote:

william brennan wrote:

Kev,

your flowers are breast taking!!! Love your photos and you blog. It is very nice of you to take your time to help those of us just starting to try something new.

Breast taking? LOL! I think you mean "breathtaking", although I rather like "breast taking."

bill

-- hide signature --

http://www.flickr.com/photos/billse-300/
E510 with two lens kit, E-300 and battery grip, E1 and battery grip, 14-45mm, 40-150mm, 50mm macro, ex25, 14-54mm. Fl50 flash.
Canon 60D

Yeah, me too! LoL!

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Duncan C
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Re: First attempt at photo stacking
In reply to KEVZPHOTOS, May 23, 2013

KEVZPHOTOS wrote:

Gpruitt54 wrote:

KEVZPHOTOS wrote:

Hi Tommy,

It's certainly a good result for a first time attempt.

The image does look somewhat noisy-grainy when viewed in the larger size.

For shots like this you wanna shoot at base ISO (100 or 50)...and for a flower that depth (I'm guessing that it was probably at least 8-10 cms deep.....one would normally require more than 8 shots to capture the entire DOF adequately with enough "overlap" between images.

Even with stacking, I would shoot at f/16 and take at least 20 images with a subject like that.

On this blade of grass I used 37 images - for example.

http://kvincentphotography.ca/stackedimages/h3da2bbe#h3da2bbe

http://kvincentphotography.ca/stackedimages

Just keep doing it...practice makes perfect.

Please also note - applying "selective lighting" in post is crucial on these kind of flower images, stacked or otherwise.

KEV

-- hide signature --

"No problem can be solved at the level of consciousness which created it" - Albert Einstein

WoW! I want to try this. Would I be right to assume that all these shots are done indoors with studio lighting?

Yup, your assumption would be right.

On the blade of grass, how did you prevent the water drop from sliding down the blade as you were shooting?

I fixed  the water drop to the blade of grass with super glue so it wouldn't move.

( errh, no - that's a lie  )

I can't remember, but I probably had the blade almost in the horizontal position...so the water drop couldn't fall off...and then flipped the image 90 degrees to present it.

What are you adjusting the F stops or your focus.

One never adjusts the F stop when stacking....you simply use a focus rail to shift the entire camera rig...about 1mm at a time. One also never adjusts the focus....it stays constant.

That's too broad a statement. You never adjust focus, but plenty of people do. (Me included.)

I get the shot set up using live view on my camera, and then drive the stack using Helicon Remote. It works quite well.

I just got a set of (manual adjustment) rails for my birthday, and may try my hand at adjusting the camera rig between shots. However, I think I need to build a shooting platform to mount my subject and camera on the same stable base. Right now I have my subject on a table and my camera on a tripod (on carpet which is on top of a concrete basement floor.) I don't think I will be able to keep things stable enough to be able to turn the focus knobs on my rails without causing camera movement.

Here's my blog article with the basics:

http://kvincentphotography.ca/blog/2012/1/focus-stacking

KEV

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"No problem can be solved at the level of consciousness which created it" - Albert Einstein

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Regards,
Duncan C
dpreview and PBase supporter.
title
http://www.pbase.com/duncanc
My macro gallery:
http://www.pbase.com/duncanc/macro_pictures&page=all

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Cakeery
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Re: First attempt at photo stacking
In reply to Tommy tek, May 24, 2013

Beautiful shooting. But I think if the object had a favorable background,the photo will be more beautiful.

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KEVZPHOTOS
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Re: First attempt at photo stacking
In reply to Duncan C, May 24, 2013

Duncan C wrote:

all these shots are done indoors with studio lighting?

Yup, your assumption would be right.

On the blade of grass, how did you prevent the water drop from sliding down the blade as you were shooting?

I fixed  the water drop to the blade of grass with super glue so it wouldn't move.

( errh, no - that's a lie  )

I can't remember, but I probably had the blade almost in the horizontal position...so the water drop couldn't fall off...and then flipped the image 90 degrees to present it.

What are you adjusting the F stops or your focus.

One never adjusts the F stop when stacking....you simply use a focus rail to shift the entire camera rig...about 1mm at a time. One also never adjusts the focus....it stays constant.

That's too broad a statement. You never adjust focus, but plenty of people do. (Me included.)

Let's put it this way.

IF one uses a focus rail system....there is absolutely NO reason to manually adjust focus by turning the lens ring. One simply moves the entire camera rig on the rail.

And, as one SHOULD always be using a rail.....then lens focus adjustment thus becomes redundant.

Also, it's virtually impossible to step a stack accurately (ie: from back to front) by manually adjusting the lens focus ring....as one simply cannot gauge the incremental step measurements using that method.

Hence the focus rail was invented 

KEV

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"No problem can be solved at the level of consciousness which created it" - Albert Einstein

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Duncan C
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Re: First attempt at photo stacking
In reply to KEVZPHOTOS, May 24, 2013

KEVZPHOTOS wrote:

Duncan C wrote:

all these shots are done indoors with studio lighting?

Yup, your assumption would be right.

On the blade of grass, how did you prevent the water drop from sliding down the blade as you were shooting?

I fixed  the water drop to the blade of grass with super glue so it wouldn't move.

( errh, no - that's a lie  )

I can't remember, but I probably had the blade almost in the horizontal position...so the water drop couldn't fall off...and then flipped the image 90 degrees to present it.

What are you adjusting the F stops or your focus.

One never adjusts the F stop when stacking....you simply use a focus rail to shift the entire camera rig...about 1mm at a time. One also never adjusts the focus....it stays constant.

That's too broad a statement. You never adjust focus, but plenty of people do. (Me included.)

Let's put it this way.

IF one uses a focus rail system....there is absolutely NO reason to manually adjust focus by turning the lens ring. One simply moves the entire camera rig on the rail.

And, as one SHOULD always be using a rail.....then lens focus adjustment thus becomes redundant.

Also, it's virtually impossible to step a stack accurately (ie: from back to front) by manually adjusting the lens focus ring....as one simply cannot gauge the incremental step measurements using that method.

Hence the focus rail was invented 

KEV

-- hide signature --

"No problem can be solved at the level of consciousness which created it" - Albert Einstein

Who said you had to manually adjust the focus ring?

There are various software packages that let you control lens focus. I use Helicon Remote, but Nikon's camera control software also offers this feature, and there are other programs that do as well.

For now I am shooting with my camera on a tripod, and prefer not to touch it at all. With Helicon remote, I set the near and far focus points, and either take the suggested number of steps, or enter my own. The software then takes over and shoots the whole stack without me having to touch anything.

I either need to mount my focus rails and my subject platform on a wood base, or get a StackShot.

-- hide signature --

Regards,
Duncan C
dpreview and PBase supporter.
title
http://www.pbase.com/duncanc
My macro gallery:
http://www.pbase.com/duncanc/macro_pictures&page=all

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Gpruitt54
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Re: First attempt at photo stacking
In reply to Duncan C, May 25, 2013

Thank you very much for the article. I see that you can do this with several software applications. I see that some are stand-alone, and you can use PhotoshopCS5. Is there an option; build in, or add-on to do this with Adobe Lightroom 4?

Also, Focus rail? I don't have one of these little toys. What to look for in such a device? Are there good ones and are there bad ones?

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