The third Focus Stacking Workshop, led by Ron McConathy and taking place at his home in Kingston, Tennessee, is the last one for 2021. Because of space issues, the workshop is limited to six participants. One spot is still open. The following information about the workshop is from Ron.
About Focus Stacking
Focus stacking--a great tool for photographers--is a digital image processing technique that combines multiple images taken at different focus distances to give a resulting image with a greater depth of field (DOF) than any of the individual source images. Focus stacking can be used in situations where a single image would not have enough DOF. This is very useful for close-up/macro and landscape photography. The technique can also create soft, out-of-focus backgrounds with tack-sharp subjects.
Multiple images are made starting in front of the subject and continuing to behind the subject. In each image, a different area of the subject is in focus. The in-focus parts of each image are then blended together in a software program to generate a single in-focus final image.
A short Youtube video shows the process for converting a series of focus-stacked images into a final image using Lightroom CC and Photoshop. There are many YouTube videos on focus stacking, and you might want to watch others to help understand the process.
Some Olympus, Sony, and Canon cameras have built-in functions to aid in focus stacking. If you are interested in this workshop, check to see if your camera has such a feature. If it does, read your owner’s manual to learn how it works (bring the manual with you).
I will be using Canon cameras with the "focus bracketing” feature that instructs the camera to take a series of pictures with the lens' focus distance setting increasing between each image captured until the specified number of images are captured or until infinity focus is reached. The resulting set of images can then be focus stacked during post-processing. This has spoiled me, making focus stacking very easy.
Focus stacking requires a little extra effort during processing, and it adds more to your image storage media. The sharp main subject from front to back combined with a soft out-of-focus background creates a stunning image. Many professional photographers have been doing this for years, and you have probably admired their images without knowing how they did it. After this workshop, you can do what they do.
Go to this Zenfolio gallery to see some examples of focus stacking taken this year.
What to Expect at the Workshop
We will gather on our covered deck (which borders our woods) for a short introduction before spending an hour or so shooting in the field and woods. Afterwards, we will meet on the deck where I will demonstrate how I use Lightroom CC, Helicon Focus, and Topaz computer programs to create final images. Bring your laptop and a card reader if you want to work on your day’s images while at the workshop. If you don’t want to use Photoshop, Helicon Focus and Zerene Stacker are popular focus stacking programs. Helicon Focus, Zerene Stacker, and Topaz all have short free trial periods.
We will provide some light snacks and great tasting well water and herbal tea, a deck with a table and seating, and the ambiance of our woods and water features.
Disclaimer: I am not responsible for any camera gear or software purchases that result from participating in this workshop.
- I will show you how to make the in-camera series of images used to create a focus-stacked final image.
- We will discuss when you can use this technique and when it won’t work.
- You will learn how the image series created is processed on a computer to make a final focus-stacked image.
- You will learn to say, “I wish I had known about this technique a long time ago.”
What to Bring
- Your favorite DSLR camera and lens.
- A macro lens if you are interested in close-up photography.
- A tripod and shutter release.
- Your laptop and card reader with appropriate photo processing software.
- Insect repellant for the ticks, chiggers, and mosquitos (not as prevalent in the fall).
- Sunscreen and hat.
- Clothing and footwear for walking in heavy weeds.
Requirement for Attending
ALL participants MUST be fully vaccinated for COVID-19. Wearing a mask and social distancing are encouraged.