Focus stacking tip

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I saw this over on Steve Perry's Forum:
"I led a webinar a couple of weeks ago with Nikon Ambassador Vincent Versace. One of the topics we discussed was focus stacking. He is directly connected to the development team for Nikon cameras and software, and in earlier days had talked about combining images into focus stacks.

Vincent suggested that one of the techniques he uses for focus stacking is to have a wide open set of images for the back of the in focus area so the background is nicely blurred. He might use f/8 for most of the stack, but use f/1.8 for the back of the stac
k.I'd never really thought about this technique, but it makes a lot of sense. There is nothing that says a stack of images needs to have the same aperture for all images." Eric Bowles

https://bcgforums.com/index.php?threads/focus-stacking-multiple-aperture-settings.8005/#post-79213
 
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I regularly use the stack to keep only the front part of the scene in focus. As an example, if it might take 20 focus-bracketed images to render the entire scene in focus, I might stack only the first 8 to 10 captures. Doing so nicely blurs everything to the rear. I determine which capture is the last one to be included in the stack by ensuring that everything that I want in focus is indeed in focus; no other area of the scene that is sharp is included in the stack.
 
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This would have to be done in two stages on the Z 6/7. You cannot change course in the middle of a sequence.

After reading a couple of times I realised that what he was referring to was doing the furthermost IN-FOCUS area at the wide aperture.

DG
 
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I used a similar method…

I ran the focus shift all the way though from front to infinity using a middle aperture such as f8. I then take another exposure wide open. Later I blend the wide open one into the frame to achieve the blurred background to taste.

Glenn
 
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After reading a couple of times I realised that what he was referring to was doing the furthermost IN-FOCUS area at the wide aperture.
In theory, I think my method of using the same aperture setting throughout the stacked images would create a look that is more like what we are used to seeing. As an example, if my last image in the stack was shot at f/8, everything behind the focus point will fall out of focus at a more natural rate than if the last image was captured at f/1.8. However, if we're trying to be creative, all bets are off because we wouldn't necessarily want all parts of the scene to look like what we are used to seeing.
 
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I ran the focus shift all the way though from front to infinity using a middle aperture such as f8. I then take another exposure wide open. Later I blend the wide open one into the frame to achieve the blurred background to taste.

If I understand Versace's and your methods correctly, the only difference is that you are using a manual method of integrating the last shot made at the wide aperture with the image already stacked using focus-bracketed images captured using the smaller aperture. Contrast that with Versace's method, which I think lets the software automatically stack the images taken at both apertures; no manual blending is involved.
 
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If I understand Versace's and your methods correctly, the only difference is that you are using a manual method of integrating the last shot made at the wide aperture with the image already stacked using focus-bracketed images captured using the smaller aperture. Contrast that with Versace's method, which I think lets the software automatically stack the images taken at both apertures; no manual blending is involved.
I think that's accurate. Of course, there's no right or wrong way to approach this. The thing I like about my method is that I can then control how much blur enters the frame and where the blur begins...through gradient masks and by adjusting opacity. During my last photo shoot, I intentionally took a shot out of focus so that the blur would be more than my 2.8 lens was creating on its own...and then used that frame to blend in with the focus stacked file.

Glenn
 
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The thing I like about my method is that I can then control

There is no question that your method provides the photographer the greatest amount of control. If I ever become unhappy with the results of the automated method I use, I would certainly use you manual method.
 
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