Close up of a flower

Purpurpurpurpur

I seem to have a habit of picking laundry day as the best time to do a shoot with the studio/dinner table/sewing station/lauren’s office/laundry room.

Lauren’s mom dropped off some flowers the other day, which immediately triggered my colourful opportunity alarm. I went into this wanting to do some more stuff with water droplets, but the application process left something to be desired. I’m going to go out to try and get some syringes after I post this, while assuring the people at the drug store that I am not a junkie. With plan A delayed, I figured I would give focus stacking a shot, since it’s something I’m aware of, but have never actually attempted.

Chuck had done a great shot with focus stacking early on, for reference.

I’ve got a lot going on today though, so time isn’t on my side. I figured I’d try to one-and-done this as a test, and then refine the technique at a later date.

The overall concept is pretty straightforward, though. When shooting things, especially in a close up macro setting, the depth of field is very thin. That means there is a very small area that is in focus, and everything in front/behind gets blurry fast. Because of that, a single shot at an f22 aperture will look like this:

Close of of flower with thin depth of field.

Paper thin

So with focus stacking, you take many pictures with your point of focus going from the front of the object to the back, and then merge them together after the fact, only using the sharpest spot from each image:

Close up of flower focus stacked.

Somewhat thicker

It’s pretty neat, so long as you’ve got a tripod and a subject that isn’t moving.

Behind the scenes of the shot.

If I did it, here’s how.

  1. Camera tethered to my tablet, running Helicon Remote. With this I am able to focus to the front point, lock that in, focus to the back point, lock that in, and then the program will take a batch of photos, adjusting the focus slightly between each shot, until it goes from one point to the other. In this case that was 17 shots.
  2. Strobe to light and isolate the flower. The bare flash was too harsh, and I don’t like how that came out in the shot, so my modifiers will definitely be in play when I revisit this.
  3. Flower. This played a critical role in being able to get a picture of a flower.  Highly recommended.
  4. Bottle of glycerine and water. Creates droplets that stick better and don’t evaporate as fast. Originally intended for making beads for my plan A, but worked for a light misting.
  5. Laundry, because I’m an adult and do laundry on my own. As long as my girlfriend gives me a list of what can and can’t go in the dryer.

I used my 90mm macro lens for this, shooting at 1/160 to kill the ambient light, and f22 to get as much depth of field as I could per shot. ISO was 200.

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