Critique Wine: My first focus-stacked image

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Naturally, my first focus-stacked image absolutely had to be about wine. 🍷

11 images captured using CamRanger Mini and a Tamron 90mm macro lens. Stacked in Helicon Focus using default settings and no touch up. (Photoshop was so unimaginably bad that I wonder if I made a mistake.)

Setup
A white reflector was above the scene. A flashlight in the right front area lit the reflector to light the overall scene. Another one in the left area lit the reflector to add the reflection to the bottle in the lower right corner of the frame. The reflection in the top of that bottle was cloned from the reflection in the bottom during post-processing.

2020-02-08--061-S.jpg
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Thank you to Karen, Bill, Allan, Jim, Nick and Andreas!

the wine?
It's 90% Cabernet Sauvignon and the rest is Cabernet Franc and Merlot. I haven't drunk it yet.

what software did you use for the stacking?
Stacked in Helicon Focus using default settings and no touch up. (Photoshop was so unimaginably bad that I wonder if I made a mistake.)
 
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Growltiger

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Very very sharp result. Excellent.
If you had needed to you could have photographed just one bottle and cloned the other two from it in Photoshop.

Even the sharp area of the f/32 shot wouldn't be as sharp, as at that aperture you will be losing sharpness due to diffraction.
 
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Good work Mike - it is addictive.

I am puzzled about your attempt at using Photoshop being so bad. It should have handled that with ease.

Are you using Photoshop CC or an earlier version?

Would you share your steps in Photoshop? TBH, if you already have Helicon I would stick with it. I do not want to get new software when Photoshop SAYS it will do it so I have carried on using it.
 
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Thanks, Dave! I'm looking forward to seeing some focus-stacked close-ups of your guitars and to photographing some of my friend's guitars again for the same purpose.

I am puzzled about your attempt at using Photoshop being so bad. It should have handled that with ease.

Are you using Photoshop CC or an earlier version?

Would you share your steps in Photoshop? TBH, if you already have Helicon I would stick with it. I do not want to get new software when Photoshop SAYS it will do it so I have carried on using it.
I used Photoshop CC. I also was puzzled with the problem, which makes me wonder if I made a mistake. I had already used Photoshop CC with no problems to stack three sets of focus-bracketed images that were supplied to me. The method I used all four times is explained at https://create.adobe.com/2019/1/29/focus_stacking_in_ph.html Just for kicks, I'll run the images through Photoshop CC again to see what happens.

I have a subscription to Photoshop CC with no plan to end it and the 30-day free trial software of Helicon Focus and Zerene stacker. I'll keep using Helicon Focus at least through the trial period but will use Zerene Stacker only if I find Helicon Focus uncomfortable or problematic. That's because Helicon Focus has the 3-D module that is cool, which I haven't found on Zerene Stacker. If I license Helicon Focus, I'll probably buy the one-year license that costs $55. If I find later that I want to continue using it, I'll pay the $155 cost of upgrading to the perpetual license. That gives me the flexibility of deciding whether I want to have a perpetual license at a cost that is only $10 more than buying the perpetual license for $200 at the outset.
 
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Thanks also to Richard!

If you had needed to you could have photographed just one bottle and cloned the other two from it in Photoshop.
That might have been a far more difficult method, though perhaps not. Using the focus bracketing and stacking really was easy once I learned the intended method of using the CamRanger Mini to do the bracketing, which is poorly explained in its manual.
 
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I used Photoshop CC. I also was puzzled with the problem, which makes me wonder if I made a mistake...I'll run the images through Photoshop CC again to see what happens.
I used Photoshop CC again and got the same disastrous results. I then used Photoshop CC on one of the sets that was successfully stacked awhile ago and this time it was again successfully stacked. So, I don't think I made a mistake that caused the disastrous results. Definitely very strange.
 
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WRT your link above I do some things a little different.

The Z6 creates a new folder for each focus shift operation. From my card reader I copy that folder to my disc.

From Photoshop CC I open all of my RAW files in ACR and select just the ones that contain the nearest and furthest sharp images and everything in between. Synchronise them and apply any adjustments before saving them (not opening them) as 16 bit TIFFs to a new folder within the folder of RAW images. If it were a landscape I would consider applying lens adjustments at this stage. I now load the TIFFs into layers as per the linked instructions. I leave all boxes unticked.

I now select all layers and auto Align them - all boxes unticked.

I now Auto Blend all layers with Seamless Tones ticked.

DG
 
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@daveg -- You save the focus bracketed images as 16 bit Tiffs and stack them rather than stack the raw flies. Is there any particular advantage relative to the stacking process?

I appreciate the advantage of doing that if you were converting the raw files using one ecosystem such as Adobe and stacking them using a different ecosystem such as Helicon Focus. But in this case you're using the Adobe ecosystem for converting and stacking.
 
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Good question Mike and right now I cannot give you a definitive answer other than that I have tried both and I am getting a better result by using the TIFF files. I would like to take a little time to try a couple of things both ways and get back to you. It could be that the step width is more important than NEF vs TIFF? I have used Step Width = 1 on the last two things.
 
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It could be that the step width is more important than NEF vs TIFF?
Perhaps so, perhaps not. If the file format is important at least in some situations, that brings up the question about whether NEFs or TIFFs work better when the device such as CamRanger rather than the user automatically determines the step width.

Now that we're discussing file format, I wonder if using TIFF or PSD files would have had a better outcome when running this image through Photoshop CC's stacking process than the disastrous outcome using NEFs. I'll try that later and get back to the thread.
 
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