Why Did I Not Do This Before? – Part Two

Why Did I Not Do This Before? – Part Two

Well, the new computer was full of the new program – Photoshop 2019 – and I didn’t understand 1/50 of the commands and shortcuts – but the YouTube teacher had shown the two or three steps to engage the focus stacking machinery – and I followed from an iPad as he did it.

I took a series of pictures of a model airplane from the machine gun tripod – changing the focus with the lens ring along the model as I went. I used manual focus and just watched the red focus indicator line move along the wing from closest to furthest, producing 15 separate exposures. Fortunately the Elinchrom lights I use are very consistent from one shot to the next if you give about 5 seconds for a re-charge between shots and then 5 minutes for a cool-down at the end.

I’d shot RAW images and then passed them through Lightroom for correction and onto Photoshop for the stacking. PS tries to automatically align the 15 shots – dead easy if the subject and camera are static. Then it makes masks of the sharpest part of each layer and you can blend them together – saving the result to whatever file type you like.

My delight was overflowing when it actually did what the YouTube man said it would. But I discovered several possible flaws:

a. You have to make very small changes of focus at the closest points and can only increase these gradually as the focus moves away.

b. You sometimes get this wrong, giving PS a fuzzy bit to deal within a sharp layer. PS will then render some part of the final image a little funky.

c. If you shoot too wide a focal length and frame too close to the edges of the picture, you’ll lose details in blur or distortion at the edge. I finally settled on 23-35mm focal length on a zoom lens feeding into my APS-C camera, and left some air at the edges.

Using this crude shooting method I could take a small aircraft easily and even extend it to coverage of a 1.8 metre tabletop for a complete airfield scene. I used a mid-range aperture to do it. Club illustration was also possible for even the largest of scale models.

Beauty, Newc. But then, with the curiosity of the idle, I went to a Camera Electronic camera unveiling night by a representative from Olympus and it started another mind-worm gnawing. You see, the Olympus camera was fitted with a circuit that would do the focus shooting automatically – with no need for the chap demonstrating it to shift the focus ring at all. Best of all – it did the job silently and within a second.

I don’t use Olympus – I use Fujifilm…but the idea sent me back to YouTube.

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