Focus Stacked Macro Tulips

With the current Stay at Home directive, I've been working from home, my kids are back from being overseas and I have a tiny bit more time on my hands. It's a great time to learn something new and I decided to try my hand at Focus Stacking. With Focus Stacking, multiple photos taken with different focus points are merged together. The composite image renders more of the subject in focus when compared with any individual image.

I own a wonderful macro lens, but due to the shallow depth of field (small slivers of the subject in focus) I find it challenging to output what my eye envisions. Focus stacking gives me the output I desire.

Case in point - the photo below has the lovely stamens in focus, but that's about it. The petals are blurry, and I while I like the overall photo, wouldn't it be great to have all of it focus?
Hidden

So, to create a focus stack, select your subject and take multiple photos with different portions of the subject in focus. The most effective way is to use a tripod. The camera should be as stable as possible. A focus tip - use the Live view option on your camera (most newer cameras have this feature) and move the focus rectangle around your subject. For higher control, zoom in with live view to refine the focus area.

I'm looking down the wee opening of a white tulip - I've captured the yellow stamens here and the rest of the bloom is fuzzy, much like the first photo.
WhiteTulip-Stamens

I shifted my focus point to the edge of the bloom opening. The stamens are but a yellow blur.
WhiteTulip-Inner Petals

In the third photo, the middle section of the petals are in focus.
WhiteTulip-Outer Petals

I used four photos in the focus stack, it was very similar to the third photo.

Here is the composite photo:
All the Details
I see the stamens and the petals in focus! Success!

Here is another focus stacked composite of another tulip, taken from the side. I used 5 photos to create this composite.
Purple Tulip

Of course, the composites were created with the help of photo imaging software. Yes, you can do this in Photoshop, but I found an alternative - Affinity Photo, which automates the focus stacking process just like Photoshop without the price tag and subscription requirements. I've downloaded a 90 day trial and so far have been extremely impressed by this photo editor's capabilities. I will most likely purchase the software (currently a steal at $25!).

I have more tulip photos to run through so look for more in the coming weeks.


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