Five post-focus botanical stacks

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gardenersassistant Veteran Member • Posts: 5,530
Five post-focus botanical stacks

These were stacked in Helicon Focus from 6K post-focus videos. As is usually the case (for me at least) with this type of subject, there are some remaining stacking imperfections, but the more I do of this the more I feel that I'm content to put up with some of these flaws for the sake of getting overall effects I like the look of that cannot be produced with single-image captures. I do try to resolve or hide as many flaws as I can with a reasonable amount of effort, but there comes a point when it becomes too time-consuming for my taste, so I either accept the remaining flaws or abandon the image if the flaws trouble my eye too much.

A more common approach for stacking is to use focus bracketing or camera movement to capture a sequence of still images. I do use that sometimes, and there are advantages to being able to use raw and/or full size JPEGs. (It would not make any difference to the stacking issues btw.) However, in breezy conditions like it was here today I don't think stills capture would be as practical as post-focus. This is because of the length of time it takes to capture a sequence of stills.

Even if individual images are sharp, if there is too much subject movement between captures stacking becomes from problematic to impossible. On breezy days like today (and it is often breezy here) botanical subjects can move a lot, so I have to try to capture the images during brief periods when the subject isn't moving so much. For these stacks I used between 20 and 62 frames, so at 30 frames per second I needed a lull of one or two seconds. I had between 5 and 10 attempts for each scene, but even so there was too much movement in most of the attempts. Focus bracketing on the G9 proceeds at around 5 frames per second, so the time needed for the captures would have been much longer and the failure rate from subject movement would have been much higher. Moving the camera between captures would have been much slower again and I imagine would have had pretty close to a 100% failure rate.

A disadvantage of post-focus is that the maximum exposure time is 1/30 second. The light level was sufficiently low today that even using f/2.8 I had to use ISO 800 or 1600 most of the time to get a 1/30 second shutter speed. Of course, being able to use a slower shutter speed for stills capture would not have helped anyway today because of the breeze (as well as subject movement between captures, slower shutter speeds would have caused motion blur in individual images because the subjects keep moving even in the calmer moments). But on calm days it would be advantageous to use stills in poor light.

One of the advantages of stacking that I am very much enjoying is the freedom it provides for the angle of view, which affects both the look of the subject and the content of the background. For stills capture I often find my options are constrained by DoF coverage considerations, and I find it liberating to be released from that constraint.

Anyway, here are some images. I used a tripod hands-on to help stabilise the camera. After stacking the images had minor adjustments in Lightroom.

20 stacked video frames, f/2.8, ISO 800, 1/125 sec, two stacks merged, one for the subject, one for the background.

43 stacked video frames, f/2.8, ISO 800, 1/30 sec, a stack with the background retouched in places from single source frames for "artistic"/aesthetic reasons.

30 stacked video frames, f/2.8, ISO 800, 1/30 sec, two stacks merged, one for the subject, one for the background. There was light rain from this point on.

33 stacked video frames, f/2.8, ISO 1600, 1/40 sec, a single unretouched stack. This was at the back of a small pond and because of the awkward angle (I was at the side of the pond) I had just one leg of the tripod on the ground.

62 stacked video frames, f/2.8, ISO 800, 1/30 sec, a single unretouched stack. A promise of new flowers before too long; camellias in this case.

Panasonic Lumix DC-G9
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