Close-up Photography – Flowers

This week, I learnt a little about close-up photography and, in particular, focus stacking.  I have attempted to take close-up photos of flowers before using my tele-macro lens but often found that, with such a small field of focus, at least part of the image was out of focus. Sometimes that is fine and creates an interesting effect but, where this is not the required result, it is possible to use focus stacking to increase the depth of field.  In short, that means taking a number of shots that are identical except for the point of focus.  In photo processing software, the images are merged, using layers and layer masks, to eventually leave one photo in which everything in focus.

Final image

This is a combination of three images, with focus points at the front, back and in the middle of the flower.

On Saturday, I set everything up in my front room and gave focus stacking a go.  There were plenty of variables to consider, as I discovered every time I made a mistake!  The biggest challenge was making sure that every part of the flower was in focus in at least one photo.  I don’t regularly use manual focus, so that wasn’t as easy as it sounds.  I also had to be aware of possible changes to the light; I was relying on natural light initially, which was fine until the sun disappeared behind a cloud, completely changing the colour of both the background and flower from one image to the next.  And of course, even though I was using a tripod and a remote shutter release, the tiniest movement of the camera – as I changed focus point, for example – could result in a series of images that were not quite identical.

The two final images in this post are not perfect but, for a first attempt, are okay.  Certainly, they have a greater depth of field than any of the original photos, even if there are small parts that are not quite in focus.  Something to keep practising!

Final image
This photo is the result of merging ten images.  Perhaps a little overambitious, I struggled to merge the layers successfully and found that I had to work in a very methodical way to achieve anything close to a good result.