One area where this applies is
in close up photography where the Depth Of Field
much smaller than the subject so in a single exposure only a
small fraction of the subject will be in focus. By
taking a number of exposures in manual focus
mode then combining them to get a single image that has a much
greater depth of field.
The book Digital Macro Photography (2006) has no mention of
focus stacking, but does cover other aspects of Photoshop.
In Photoshop CS4
(starting with no images loaded):
File \ Scripts \
Load Images Into Stack (do not use: File \ Automate \
Click on Browse
and select the files to stack (holding CTRL and using the
mouse allows selecting non adjacent files)
Leave both of
these unchecked: Attempt to Automatically Align Source
Images & Create Smart Object After Loading Layers
In Layers, select
all or in the top menu Select choose Select All Layers
Edit \ Autoblend
Layers Check Stack Images and optionally select Seamless
Tones and Colors
|Seamless Tones and
Colors Not Selected
|Seamless Tones and
Focus Stacking 2a
Field with Photoshop CS4
- The first part did not work
to well (I had the same fuzzy edge problem), but the second
method does work well.
Open multiple images in Photoshop CS4. Then open a new
file. Drag from the layers pane of each image into the
new file. You can close all the source files now.
Select all the layers in the new file and: Edit Auto-Align
Then Edit Auto-Blend Layers using the Stack Mode with a check
in the box for Blend seamless Tones & Colors.
Note that a three dimensional subject will require a number of
overlapping photos (tiles) that will be combined at the end of
the process using just the Edit \ Auto-Align Layers. (If
you use Edit Auto-Blend the background will be different for
each tile.) Prior to that step each tile is made up of a
number of frames that have different focus settings (all other
settings the same) and these are combined using first Edit
Auto-Align then Edit Auto-Blend Layers. This results in
a tile that is more in focus than any single exposure can be.
The perspective looks wrong. Camera on tripod
and pan and tilt to cover subject.
Would be better if the camera was translated for
coverage and moved in/out for focus.
The final image is 6921 x 10382 vs theory of 6000 x
9000 for a 20" x 30" print @ 300 PPI
This opens up the idea of rather than stitching
tiles to get the needed resolution. You could do
stacking where each image would be up sized to the
final required resolution (9000x6000 for a 30 x20
then focus stacked. The idea is that the actual
would be improved.
Focus Stacking 2b
When working with NEF (RAW)
----- In Adobe Camera Raw make adjustemets to all stack
images at the same time ----
1-11) Select all the images in Windows file explorer (hold
CTRL and click on each image file to be used in the stack)
1-2) In Adobe Camera Raw use the SELECT ALL button at the
upper left so you can work on them as a group
1-3) make any adjustments - I typically work down from the
top starting with the exposure
(push to the right so specular highlights are
blown out, push up the blacks and maybe add some fill
1-4) Image \ Mode select 8bits/Channel (I have my camera set
to 14 bits/Channel, so Adobe uses 16 bits/Channel (much
larger file size)
1-5) SAVE AS and select .tif
1-6) OPEN IMAGE (will take you to Photoshop (CS4 or higher)
-------in Photoshop build the stack Note: each image will be
a .tif file-----
2-1) Create a new image (File \ New ) which will hold the
stack You can name it something appropriate for the
2-1) Use Window \ Arrange and cascade, tile or whatever
works for you so you see and access all the files for the
2-3) Resize all the images so that you can select the full
2-4) Open the Layers Panel
2-5) Click on the image frame (to start with the lowest
numbered one, then in order)
2-6) Surround the image with the select tool (dotted
rectangle) and <CTRL><C> to copy it to the clip
2-7) Click on the new image frame
2-8) Click on it's layers panel (by clicking on the new
image frame it's layers panel should be the active panel)
2-9) <CTRL><P> (to paste image into the stack
2-10) Click on the source image (selected in step (2-5) and
delete it by clicking on the "X" in it's title bar
This is important because it
frees up computer RAM
2-11) If all the source images have been used goto step
2-12) select the next image
2-13) Goto step (2-6)
------Combine the stack into a single image ----
3-1) If you have plenty of RAM goto step (20)
19) Reduce the size of the stack images IMAGE \ Size can
change the width in the pixels box.
|One of the 7 images
Focus Stacking 3 - Non Adobe
- a motorized rail that advances the camera and trigers an
Introduction to Focus Stacking
— Extended Depth of Field
Digital Photography by Rik Littlefield
Introduction to Focus Stacking
- changing the lens focus
not as good as moving camera
Open-source Photographic Motion
There are third party programs for focus stacking. A
free program is CombineZ() As of 12 Oct 2011 it's CombineZP
by Alan Hadley, prior versions were CombineZ5 and Combine
ZM. The name is derived from Combining images that are
stacked in the Z plane, i.e. X & Y are the left right
planes and Z is the up and down plane. The author of
the program uses it for taking photos of things like insects
using a microscope.
Prices range from $40 to $290.
Price range $30 to $350.
PANdrive PD-110-42 & StackShot
Automated Camera Movement
An Automated Macro Rail For Image Stacking
High Dynamic Range (HDR) Stacking
The idea is to take a series of shots covering under, normal
and over exposure and then stack them to achieve a wider
dynamic range of brightness.
Instead of using HDR methods, it's much better to
use RAW files from the camera. On the Nikon D300s the RAW image
contains 12 or 14 bits per color compared to the 8
bits per color that you get on all .jpg
images. That's a 6 bit (same as 6 f stops)
increase in dynamic range!
For example when taking product photographs for my
web pages it's common that you can not see into the
shadows, but when Adobe Camera Raw (ACR) is used to
process the RAW image moving the fill light slider
allows seeing detail in the shadows. No need
to take multiple exposures to cover the dynamic
Adobe online CS4 Tutorial on HDR
photos for HDR images
Secure the camera to a tripod.
Take enough photos to cover the full dynamic range of
the scene. You can try taking at least five to seven
photos, but you might need to take more exposures
depending on the dynamic range of the scene. The minimum
number of photos should be three.
Vary the shutter speed to create different exposures.
Changing the aperture changes the depth of field in each
exposure and can produce lower-quality results. Changing
the ISO or aperture may also cause noise or vignetting
in the image.
In general, don’t use your camera’s auto-bracket
feature, because the exposure changes are usually too
The exposure differences between the photos should be
one or two EV (exposure value) steps apart (equivalent
to about one or two f‑stops apart).
Don’t vary the lighting; for instance, don’t use a
flash in one exposure but not the next.
Make sure that nothing is moving in the scene. Exposure
Merge works only with differently exposed images of the
images to HDR
from 32 bits to 8 or 16 bpc
- Do one of the following:
- In the Merge To HDR dialog box,
click Browse, browse to select the images, and click
To remove an item, select it in the Merge To HDR dialog
box and click Remove.
you want to add a folder of images or images that are
open in Photoshop, choose Folder or Open Files from
the Use menu.
- (Optional) Select the Attempt
To Automatically Align Source Images option if you held
the camera in your hands when you photographed the
- Click OK.
A second Merge To HDR dialog box displays thumbnails of
the images being used in the merged result, a preview of
the merged result, a Bit Depth menu, and a slider for
setting the white point preview.
- If necessary, do one of the
following to set the view options for the merged result
- Choose a bit depth for the
merged image from the Bit Depth menu.
Be sure to choose 32 Bits/Channel if you want the
merged image to store the entire dynamic range data of
the HDR image. 8‑bits and (non-floating point) 16‑bpc
images files cannot store the entire range of luminance
values in an HDR image.
- Move the slider below the
histogram to preview the merged image.
Moving the slider adjusts the image preview only. All
the HDR image data remains intact in the merged image
file. If you’re saving the merged image as 32‑bpc, the
preview adjustment is stored in the HDR image file and
applied whenever the file is opened in Photoshop. The
preview adjustment is always accessible and adjustable
by choosing View > 32‑Bit Preview Options.
- Click OK to create the merged
If you chose to save the merged image as an 8‑bits or
16‑bpc image, the HDR Conversion dialog box opens. Make
the exposure and contrast corrections to produce an
image with the dynamic range (tonal range) you want. For
more information, see Convert
from 32 bits to 8 or 16 bpc.
HDR images contain luminance levels that far exceed the
luminance data that can be stored in 8‑ or 16‑bpc image
files. You can make exposure and contrast corrections
when converting a 32‑bpc HDR image to 8 or 16 bpc to
produce an image with the dynamic range (tonal range)
- Open a 32‑bpc image and
choose Image > Mode > 16 Bits/Channel
or 8 Bits/Channel.
- In the HDR Conversion dialog
box, choose a method for adjusting the brightness and
contrast in the image:
- Exposure and Gamma
- Lets you manually adjust the brightness and
contrast of the HDR image.
- Highlight Compression
- Compresses the highlight values in the HDR image
so they fall within the luminance values range of
the 8‑ or 16‑bpc image file. No further adjustments
are necessary; this method is automatic.
Click OK to convert the 32‑bpc image.
- Equalize Histogram
- Compresses the dynamic range of the HDR image
while trying to preserve some contrast. No further
adjustments are necessary; this method is automatic.
Click OK to convert the 32‑bpc image.
- Local Adaptation
- Adjusts the tonality in the HDR image by
calculating the amount of correction necessary for
local brightness regions throughout the image.
- (Optional) Click the arrow to
display the toning curve and histogram. The histogram
shows the luminance values in the original HDR image.
The red tick marks along the horizontal axis are in 1
EV (approximately 1 f‑stop) increments. The toning
curve is active only for the Local Adaptation method.
- Do any of the following:
- (Optional) To save your
32‑bit toning options as a file, click Save. Type a
name for the file in the Save dialog box and click
You can reuse the saved 32‑bit toning option file.
Click Load to convert another 32‑bpc image to an 8‑ or
- Click OK to convert the
The camera was pointed in the direction of the Sun, except
it was level. The shooting position was choosen so
that the lens was in total shade because of the trees.
Five exposures (M mode) were made in 1 stop steps, only
the -2, 0 and +2 are shown below.
The nominal exposure was: 1/100, f/5 ISO500 105 mm tripod Nikon
Active-D Lighting turned off.
In the Shooting Menu about 3/4 of the way down is Active-D
Lighting. (Note: searching the Nikon manual for HDR will
not work because they have their own name for it.) The
possible settings are: Off, Low, Normal, High, Extra
High, Auto. The example below was at Extra High.
So far I prefer the image using the internal Active-D Lighting
over the stacked HDR method. That may be because I
haven't perfected the method.
High Dynamic Range HDR in Nikon D300s Active-D Lighting set to
The focus is better than the stacked version above.
Maybe allowing Photoshop CS4 to align the images rather than
trust the tripod would improve the focus in the stacked HDR
Panorama, Stitching, Cylindrical &
Spherical Image Stacking
Many cell phone cameras and
digital cameras have internal stitching to make panoramic
images but the images are not of the same quality as a modern
digital SLR camera and these typically do not have internal
stitching. The end product is an image that is very
wide. Most photo processors do not offer a print format
that has the extreme aspect ratio that these images require
for printing. One thing that can be done, instead of
having a print made with a lot of white space, is to make the
image size half height on a standard landscape print
size. For example you can place two panorama
images each 4" h x 12" w on a single 8x12 print. The
photo processor probably will cut them apart for no extra
Apple has what they call QuickTime VR (Virtual Reality or
where a number of photos, typically taken using a leveled
tripod and an angle adapter are then combined into a single
image that can be viewed on a computer and you can pan and
tilt to see much more than a static frame. Google Street
View uses something like this. The images can be
combined either using a cylindrical or spherical model.
File \ Automatic \ Photomerge
Choose images to stitch together
Check the dot next to Reposition
||Source was 6 portrait
images each a .tif file aobut 35 MB.
Combined file 162 MB 6000 pixels wide x 2296 pixels
The tripod was not leves so you can see a little
vertical offset in each tile.
This was the first experiment in looking for stars in
Notice that the top of the frame is darker, as it
because as the elevation angle goes up (and toward the
North star) the sky gets darker
|The Zenith is one of
the places that can be aimed at without a calibrated
|A 300 mm FL lens at
f/2.8 has an objective diameter of 300/2.8 = 107 mm or
From the Visual Magnitude Equation 2 at:
Mag = 5 * Log10( D ) + 8.8 = 5 * 0.625 + 8.8 = 11.9
but this is for night time viewing. Who knows
for daytime star viewing?
- holds a DSLR camera and lens that can weigh
up to 10 pounds and can take an almost spherical image (can
not shoot straight up or down and limited by lens length) by
means of stitching.
Object Removal Stacking
In Photoshop CS4 you need to download the ExtractionPlus
Plug-In. It comes as a zip file. When the zip
file is run it put the extracted files in a folder on my
desktop named "Adobe CS4" but I didn't know that so it took
an hour of expirmenting to find it. Once there work
your way down through all the folders to the ExtractPlus.8BF
filter. Another way would be to run the zip extraction
program to get the .exe. Run the .exe then
search your computer for ExtractPlus.8BF. Move it into
the \Pluug-ins\Filters folder for your installation of
photoshop CS4 (32 bit in my case WIN XP).
In order to get Photoshop CS4 to show Extract in the Filters
drop down box it was necessary to restart WIN XP. Now
Before you can use the history brush you must first enable
history (which is a huge memory hog) under Edit \
Preferences \ General.
The history brush has an icon like the regular bursh plus is
has a circular back arrow superimposed.
Based on this video. First the undesired objects are
extracted from the image and replaced by black.
Using Photoshop to increase the
number of pixels is "hollow" expansion since no new
informationis added. PhotoAcute has a method of
combining a number what appers to be identical images in such
a way that they can double the image resolution. Some of
these programs work on a single image and others use stacking,
so I'm putting them all on this stacking web page.
Requires Photoshop CS3 or
later (Elements 7 or later)
Works better than the photoshop bicubic methodworks on
Three resolution enhancement
products works on single image
($ 30) - low cost for camera phones
($120) - 68 MP size limit, good for 23" by 33" @ 300DPI
($200) - 2 GP size limit, good for 20"x23" @ 1000 DPI
Works by stacking images for
specific camera + lens combinations. Best with RAW
Recomended that a small motion be made between shots on a
They claim a doubling of resolution in each axis and so the
minimum number of images is 4, but 5 or 6 images makes for a
Includes HDR and noise reduction so using ISO in the 400 to
800 range is recomended.
When the camera and lens are one of the supported
combinations, lens distortion can be corrected.
Removing moving objects is also an option.
Also does focus stacking.
Photographic Multishot Techniques (see
) covers using this software
Standard/Lite/Mobile ($30) - Compact and prosumer cameras
& cell phones
Pro/Studio ($150) - DSLR + "
Requires Photoshop CS4 or
CS5. Works on a single image. Contains
sharpening that can be applied just before submitting to
Professional Edition ($200) -
Supports resizing CMYK images, Gallery Wrap feature - add
extended margins, Integrates with Lightroom, Integrates with
Standard Edition ($100) -
Techniques: High Dynamic Range, Super-Resolution, Extended
Depth of Field, Stitching [Paperback] By: Juergen Gulbins,