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Aug 07, 2012

The Wonders Of Focus Stacking

At the Phlearn studio we love to Photoshop.
At the Phlearn studio we ESPECIALLY love to Photoshop when a unicorn is involved.

A couple of days ago at the studio we did a quick photoshoot where the final result would be a composite of the people in the studio that day. The final image was of Ralph the unicorn, and Angela, Aaron, and Kate composited in the photograph. Kate was riding the unicorn, Angela was petting the unicorn, and Aaron was lying down in front of the unicorn (like a boss).
You’d think you would only need 4 photographs for this kind of composite, but why do that when you can do something much better with a technique called focus stacking? Focus stacking is when you take multiple photographs of something (in this case, Ralph the unicorn) at the same focal length, but with a different focus each time. What we mean by this is you put the focus on manual focus, and then you shoot a picture, you move the focal ring a bit, then you take another picture, you move the focal ring again, then you take another picture, etc.. You should do multiple times, we ended up with 13 different photos.
We shot the photo of the unicorn with the Canon 5D Mark II, and a 24-105mm Macro lens.
Why does focus stacking benefit the photograph? Well because when you’re photographing an object so close up that needs to fill an entire frame it is going to be near impossible to get the entire object in focus even at a f8. This is a problem when compositing because the people you are photoshopping in the image will not look right with the unicorn. You want to make it look as realistic as possible and focus stacking definitely is a very large factor of making that happen.

We get Ralph (the unicorn) completely in focus by bringing all of the images into Photoshop and merging them with a tool called “Auto-Blend Layers” which is really one of the best tools in Photoshop.

Here is the final image. Also, Phlearn Poots Rainbows? Inspired by one of the Phamily’s comments on Facebook.

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