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Focus Stacking - a Macro Photography Technique

Focus stacking (also known as focal plane merging and z-stacking or focus blending) is a digital image processing technique which combines multiple images taken at different focus distances to give a resulting
image with a greater depth of field (DOF) than any of the individual source images.

Over the past two years I have been experimenting/using a product called:

Helicon Remote and Helicon Focus. (links below) with good success.

Helicon Focus Stacking Examples on

Now Helicon Remote has a few draw backs...not every single model of camera ever made is supported...Including some newer one's, until recently my Nikon D7100 was not supported and I had to use my D90 for the last project in which I used this software. So please check the list of supported cameras. Now if your camera is not supported by Helicon Remote it is possible if you can tether with LightRoom. You can shoot the shots manually and export to Helicon Focus for the rendering. Camera compatibility:
Canon: 70D, 700D, 6D, 5D Mk III, 1D X, 7D, 5D Mk II, 1D Mk IV, 1D Mk
III, 1Ds Mk III, 60D, 50D, 40D, 650D/Rebel T4i/Kiss X6, 600D/Rebel
T3i/Kiss X5, 1100D/Rebel T3, 1000D/Rebel XS, 550D/Rebel T2i/Kiss X4, 500D/Rebel T1i/Kiss X3, 450D/Rebel XSi/Kiss X2
Nikon: D610, D5300, D600, D7100, D5200, D800/D800e, D4, D3, D3s, D3x, D7000, D5000, D5100, D700, D300/D300s, D90 (D3000, D3100 and D3200 are
not supported).

There is a way to also do this with Lightroom shooting tethered and exporting to PhotoShop/PhotoShop Elements, which I will cover as well, but most of the time will be using Helicon products.

What will we be shooting:
A friend of mine will be bring a collection of 50 wrist watches, but I also encourage you to bring small items/objects you been wanting to "Macro" Shoot".

We will break into about 5 groups so we can all get a chance to test out the process
You will need the following if you wish to participate in the shooting.

1) Supported camera with lens that can handle auto focus under 1-3 feet (I use a 60mm F/2.8 or 35mm F/2.8)
we will have good lighting so aperture size is not a factor

2) A laptop running Helicon Remote/Focus that you can tether to your camera via USB cable or Laptop with Lightroom tether to your camera via USB cable and PhotoShop/PhotoShop Elements

3) Tripod

*Shooting tethered can drain a battery fast so I suggest you bring an extra camera battery

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  • Nicole

    Bill put it so well…I'll just add a big "Thank You!" to Rick, John, Bill and Marshall for their willingness to share their time, skills (and patience). I had a lot of fun and learned a little something from everyone.

    1 · April 13, 2014

  • Christian D.

    Sounds like you folks had fun!

    April 13, 2014

  • William C.

    This was an excellent workshop for photographers looking to lean about new techniques and tools for creative imaging. The instructor and participants were fantastic and I had a lot of fun.

    1 · April 12, 2014

  • Rick S.

    Bill/Nicole/John : Here is link to post your images if you care to. Marshall has several of your renders, put those are "non-post processed". Thanks for coming out today...The goal was to introduce you to the software and technique. As always when I use this software I learn something new. Here is the link: -rick

    April 12, 2014

  • David M

    Sorry for the - literally - last minute withdrawal. I injured my foot yesterday, and standing or walking is very painful right now. I'm very disappointed I won't be able to attend this meetup.

    April 12, 2014

  • Virginia H.

    Hi Rick,
    I will be out of town for this but it sounds interesting. I downloaded Helicon and plan to try it out on my own.

    April 11, 2014

    • Rick S.

      It can be fun and frustrating (the software) get the remote software too...makes it easier...e-mail me at [masked] if you get really stuck... :-D good luck

      April 11, 2014

  • Bob D.

    Sorry to pull out at the last minute, Rick. I'm sure it will be great.

    April 10, 2014

    • Rick S.

      Take care Bob.... Hope to see ya around...

      April 11, 2014

  • John C.

    I've taken a few macro shots, but have not tried focus stacking, however, it sounds like fun. Looking forward to seeing the demonstration and in participating in the process.

    April 6, 2014

    • Rick S.

      Welcome aboard... please checkout the links in the announcement and I will be sending out a final e-mail around Wednesday -rick

      April 6, 2014

  • Christian D.

    Awesome idea for a workshop Rick! Thanks for hosting this!

    1 · February 20, 2014

  • A former member
    A former member

    Wish I could be there Rick. I know everyone who will attend will really be amazed at what can be done with FS. Have fun!

    1 · February 20, 2014

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