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Focus stacking is a very easy way to produce an image with the maximum depth of field and doesn't require anything more than a copy of Photoshop.

First you need to set your camera up on a tripod and turn off auto-focus (and VR, if you have it). Now using the manual focus, bring the closest part of your subject into focus and release the shutter. Now gently move the focus ever so slightly forward and release the shutter again. (*Note - if you're doing this technique with a landscape photo you will not need to take as many individual photos as you will a macro stacking like the one I'm doing). Continue doing this process until you reach the furthest portion of your subject that you want to be in focus.

I use Lightroom and so I'm going to load my images from Lightroom to Photoshop, however, you can load these directly to Photoshop, if you prefer.

Starting with your photos in Lightroom, export them to Photoshop by highlighting the photos as shown below and into Photoshop


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Now that you're in Photoshop and all your photos that you want to blend together are present, go to Edit and pull down to Scripts and then to Load Files Into Stack...

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That will bring up a window that looks like this and choose the option Add Open Files

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Now you will see all your files listed in the window. *Be sure to check the option "Attempt to Auto Align Source Images" and then click Okay

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It will then churn through your images and you'll see something like this below as it's working through your photos

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In the end you'll have all the images in one file. Note that all your images can be seen on the right hand window.

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Now highlight all the image layers on the right so they're all grayed as shown below

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Then with the layers highlighted go under Edit and pull down to "Auto-Blend Layers..." option

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When you choose the "Auto-Blend Layers..." option it will bring up a window like this one below

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Choose "Stack Images" and press "Okay". It will blend the images together while masking portions that are not in focus. Giving you something like this below

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Now to convert your layers into a single image go to "Layers" and pull down to "Merge Layers" as shown below

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And now you have a single image file of all your blended images in one place as shown below

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And Viola! You have a single image with a very large depth of field. Pretty easy, huh?
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Updated 01-30-2013 at 08:45 PM by Dave_W

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  1. AxeMan - Rick S.'s Avatar
    Like to add that if you find an area that is out of focus and you want it in focus, find the layer that your out of focus area is in, then you can go in and edit the layers mask and "paint" in the focus. This is done better at 1:1 and before you flatten your image

    Thanks Dave!
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  2. Dave_W's Avatar
    Interesting! I didn't think about that aspect but sure, that would work very well. You know, I can't help but marvel at all the different things that Photoshop can do, most of which we, as photographers, never even scratch the surface of. I've been re-reading my CS6 books in an effort to incorporate more PS in my work flow. So much power in that program that goes unused.
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  3. BackdoorHippie's Avatar
    I'm assuming when you're done you just save it as a new tiff/jpeg file correct? Given that the original files are somewhat useless on their own you're not looking to preserve anything, so merging the layers isn't "destructive" as much as it is "constructive", but I suppose you could simply save the object unmerged for later tweaking if you want and then just export the image file from that, allowing you to adjust after the fact if you notice something you didn't necessarily like.
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  4. Marcel's Avatar
    Wow Dave, I never thought PS could do "auto blend". I tried to mask by hand and it ended up as a mess, so I kind of stopped my experiments with focus stacking.

    Your blog opens many opportunities for me.

    Thanks a million!
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  5. stmv's Avatar
    and you did an excellent job of providing a step by step procedure.. I just redid a manual one effort form last week using the batch,, faster.
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  6. funfortehfun's Avatar
    Great blog entry, might get into trying out some focus stacking!
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