I’ve not been posting as much as I would normally like, but I’ve been fiddling with a lot of photography in my spare moments. I’m trying to get a Zenfolio site up and running, and I’ve also been looking at supplies for macro photography.
Recently I was researching how to get good focus on close up subjects. On flowers that have a lot of distance between the stamen and the petals, this is really difficult, or impossible. While I like Bokeh in the background, and as part of the flower, I sometimes wish I could get good focus on something like a hibiscus, or an orchid. But other than a side view, you are pretty much out of luck because of the depth. Unless you have something like Zerene Stacker.
Zerene Stacker is macro focus stacking software, and the solution to macro shots with a large depth of field. The way it works is, you take successive photos with different planes of focus throughout the shot and load them into Zerene Stacker where the magic happens. The software is designed to align the photos one on top of the other with the part that is in focus for each shot showing in the final product, so that everything is in focus once they are put together.
Below is a picture of a dark pink Guara Belleza blossom. The stamen are in a different plane of focus than the petals, as is the place where all the stamen merge together. I took four shots, and used Zerene Stacker to get this photo:
What a handy little piece of software! I tried Lightroom Enfuse, but wasn’t nearly as happy with it, as the images didn’t align properly, and the end results were not very good. I suspect that this would be better also, if I had taken a few more photos. Z Stacker can handle over a 100 photos stacked to get an image, which is pretty impressive. They will also give you a 30 day free trial. It is very user-friendly (I did this without any tutorials–and I’m no genius when it comes to the computer), but the computation does take the computer a good amount of time to complete (the above flower took about 20 minutes).
The price for the professional version is a little high at 289.00. Personal edition is 89.00, and student edition is a very reasonable 39.00.
There are several stacking programs out there. Some are more expensive, some are less. I picked the one that would work with Macs, and was user friendly. Laurie Knight Photography does a great review of Z Stacker and some other programs for those who are interested.