Tried out focus stacking today. This one worked, although I didn't start the first focus slice close enough. I only used 5 images. Seems like it was enough for the area used. I also did a time delay to allow the flash to recover between shots.
Decided I needed to shoot these using more images. Lots of folks are using between 50 and 100, which seems excessive to me. I took this one using 20 images and increased the distance between shots. It was shot at F11, using flash. I should have either increased the number of shots a little, or increased the distance between shots as the very back of the leaf was out of focus. I think I had it on 7 out of 10. I got none of the bands that indicate gaps of DOF between shots.
While the concept is simple, the execution of this technique has it's difficulties. Wind is not your friend when shooting these, as I found out. It also creates some large files when editing. I wish I could directly import the files from LR to PS for stacking, but the cloud version doesn't allow them to be exported as separate layers, unless I'm missing something. I would like to edit in LR, then copy edit parameters to all images, then import directly into PS. Currently, I'm importing the unedited images directly into PS, then auto aligning and auto blending them, and exporting it to do final editing in LR. That seems a little clumsy to me, and I can't export the final image as a TIF with this many images stacked, as the file is too large. I have to export as a JPG, which caused me issues with artifacts created in the background when editing.
Aside from my wife yelling at me for dripping water on the floor, no. Although a lot of what I'm shooting now that would benefit from focus stacking would be at parks and gardens where they take a dim view of your picking flowers and plants to take home. The more static insects might be OK, but my backyard is mostly grass and trees and what few insects I see there are very mobile. I am more into the insect pics than I am flowers, but starting off with macro, the flowers are easier to deal with.
Well, here's an unplanned focus stack. I was checking the non focusing 105 macro to see if it was still sharp after reassembly. I set the focus on roughly 1:2 before assembly so I can still focus by camera distance. Anyway I found two ladybugs and was taking some pictures of them. I could get enough DOF with just one bug using a small aperture. Too much distance for two. When I downloaded the pictures I had taken to the computer, I discovered that two, taken consecutively, were close enough to focus stack. One focused on the bottom bug, and the other on the top. I merged them, and it worked, with a few small issues. One of the top bug's feelers was not sharp (likely motion), and the bottom bug's feelers weren't sharp (outside of DOF). And, yes, the 105 still looks sharp after it's surgery. I will do some more thinking and try and see if I can at least get manual focus working on it.
There are basically 3 phases to Focus Stacking... each a separate endeavor.
1. Taking the actual images... determining how many and their focal lengths. There are a plethora of hardware methods. Focus rails, bellows, external triggers, and now even the Z cameras have internal triggers...
2. This phase is subjective where it goes in the workflow process, but some folks "process" the exposures here before stacking... denoise and sharpening...
3. The actual stacking process
Thank you for the advice. I am sure I've a lot to learn. Here is my first attempt. I took 8 photos of this chicory flower with my D810 and Macro lens. I used photoshop to blend the stacked photos per Fred's video link. ( Thank you she was much easier to follow than anything else I found) I'm sure there is a way you are suppose to focus which would make the image come out better but that just leaves me more to learn.