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Author Topic: Focus Blend tutorial  (Read 19406 times)
DanPBrown
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« on: March 05, 2009, 07:39:03 PM »
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I received a few requests to describe my technique of focus blending by some members here. I finally got a blog on my site and I decided that my first post would be to answer the question.
http://www.danbrownphotography.com/blog/
Dan
http://www.danbrownphotography.com
« Last Edit: March 05, 2009, 07:39:27 PM by DanPBrown » Logged
DougJ
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« Reply #1 on: March 05, 2009, 10:24:03 PM »
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After all of that work--272 images, not to mention the work of blending--I hope that you are able to make a nice big print, have it nicely framed, and then find many more than one buyer.

Ciao,

Doug



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Roger Calixto
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« Reply #2 on: March 06, 2009, 02:01:08 PM »
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wow
I wasn't aware it took so much work! All the more reason to enjoy it =)

{]
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Luis Argerich
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« Reply #3 on: March 06, 2009, 03:33:04 PM »
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The final result is uber-super-magnifique (I had to change my ratings system).
Thanks a zillion for sharing the process the love you put into making this picture is clearly seen in the final result.

Luigi
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PeterAit
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« Reply #4 on: March 06, 2009, 03:49:56 PM »
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Quote from: luigis
The final result is uber-super-magnifique (I had to change my ratings system).
Thanks a zillion for sharing the process the love you put into making this picture is clearly seen in the final result.

Luigi

You mention having to re-scale each focus "slice" and it sounds like that took a lot of time. What if you mounted the camera on a focus rail, focused on the nearest point, took the first image, then moved the camera slightly closer for subsequent "slices?" Would this simplify the task?

Peter
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Peter
"Photographic technique is a means to an end, never the end itself."
View my photos at http://www.peteraitken.com
jjj
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« Reply #5 on: March 06, 2009, 04:02:20 PM »
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A shame we can only view this very nice shot online as printed the size you intend, it will probably be amazing.
Size matters!  
I had thought about using a similar technique on a very different subject. You've raised the bar!
And made me realise how incredibly difficult my 'simple' idea is.
« Last Edit: March 06, 2009, 04:08:00 PM by jjj » Logged

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« Reply #6 on: March 06, 2009, 04:05:39 PM »
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Quote from: PeterAit
You mention having to re-scale each focus "slice" and it sounds like that took a lot of time.
That sound like lens 'breathing' when focal length changes slighty as you focus at different distances. You may be better off getting some lenses designed for filming as 'breathing' is a problem in filming when pulling focus, so it is eradicated. It may be expensivce, but compared to the amount of time spent on the shot, it may well be worth it if it can save a lot of work.
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DanPBrown
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« Reply #7 on: March 06, 2009, 05:16:09 PM »
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Quote from: DougJ
After all of that work--272 images, not to mention the work of blending--I hope that you are able to make a nice big print, have it nicely framed, and then find many more than one buyer.

Ciao,

Doug
Yeah I would like to have more buyers too  Here is how it looks framed. I probably won't sell many this size at $800.
Dan
www.danbrownphotography.com
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DanPBrown
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« Reply #8 on: March 06, 2009, 06:15:36 PM »
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Quote from: PeterAit
You mention having to re-scale each focus "slice" and it sounds like that took a lot of time. What if you mounted the camera on a focus rail, focused on the nearest point, took the first image, then moved the camera slightly closer for subsequent "slices?" Would this simplify the task?

Peter
Yes and no. The images would still have to rescaled but as you proceed into the image the photos need to be downsized instead of upsized.
There are a couple of advantages though. First the exposure stays more consistent since the effective aperture doesn't change like it would when focusing the lens. Second, if you move the camera the same amount for each exposure you may be able to estimate the amount of scaling for each image accurately.
I didn't use a focus rail for this photo mainly due to the  parallax shift that would have interfered with the panoramic stitch aspect.
You are correct that the rescaling takes up a lot of the time, maybe as much as 35%.
Dan
http://www.danbrownphotography.com
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DanPBrown
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« Reply #9 on: March 06, 2009, 06:26:00 PM »
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Quote from: jjj
That sound like lens 'breathing' when focal length changes slighty as you focus at different distances. You may be better off getting some lenses designed for filming as 'breathing' is a problem in filming when pulling focus, so it is eradicated. It may be expensivce, but compared to the amount of time spent on the shot, it may well be worth it if it can save a lot of work.
Yes, when using the lens to focus, not the focus rail method. Do you know of any macro video lenses that could be adapted to a Canon mount and would not breathe?
Dan
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apq65
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« Reply #10 on: March 07, 2009, 11:44:36 AM »
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The results of the focus blend technique are stunning. I wonder if a long focal length macro such as the Canon 180/3.5 would cause less lens breathing than a lens with a shorter focal length? I suppose it depends on the ratio of lens travel as you focus at different parts of the flower relative to the distance between lens and flower?
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DanPBrown
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« Reply #11 on: March 07, 2009, 01:23:56 PM »
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Quote from: apq65
The results of the focus blend technique are stunning. I wonder if a long focal length macro such as the Canon 180/3.5 would cause less lens breathing than a lens with a shorter focal length? I suppose it depends on the ratio of lens travel as you focus at different parts of the flower relative to the distance between lens and flower?
I think you are correct, a longer focal length would be less breathing, all else equal. BTW, I used the 180mm macro for this shot.
Dan
http://danbrownphotography.com/
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larryg
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« Reply #12 on: March 07, 2009, 02:17:18 PM »
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stunning results and thanks for the tutorial.

I think I will try some simple/basic  images to figure how it might work together,   like maybe three to five images.


Larry


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Luis Argerich
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« Reply #13 on: March 07, 2009, 03:07:04 PM »
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Back again to this thread to say again I really enjoy this work.
Question: Why not use Helicon Focus or CombineZM instead of doing the blending by hand? I think HeliconFocus takes care of the lens breathing the specs say something about "anamorphic lens breathing algorithm". Not sure about CZM but maybe someone can chime in.

Luigi
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DanPBrown
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« Reply #14 on: March 07, 2009, 03:59:23 PM »
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Quote from: luigis
Back again to this thread to say again I really enjoy this work.
Question: Why not use Helicon Focus or CombineZM instead of doing the blending by hand? I think HeliconFocus takes care of the lens breathing the specs say something about "anamorphic lens breathing algorithm". Not sure about CZM but maybe someone can chime in.

Luigi
I've used Helicon Focus, I was not impressed with the results. I tried it again just a week ago on a snowflake photo, I thought maybe it would work ok on a flat subject but I was disappointed again.
I have heard that the latest version Photoshop has a focus blending feature. I have also heard that Helicon works better than Photoshop, oh well.
Dan
http://www.danbrownphotography.com
« Last Edit: March 07, 2009, 05:51:24 PM by DanPBrown » Logged
elf
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« Reply #15 on: March 09, 2009, 02:00:39 AM »
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Quote from: DanPBrown
I've used Helicon Focus, I was not impressed with the results. I tried it again just a week ago on a snowflake photo, I thought maybe it would work ok on a flat subject but I was disappointed again.
I have heard that the latest version Photoshop has a focus blending feature. I have also heard that Helicon works better than Photoshop, oh well.
Dan
http://www.danbrownphotography.com

First, let me say this image is beautiful both from a composition and exposure standpoint.  The focus stacking is just a bonus

To save you some experimenting: Photoshop's focus blending is worthless for closeups and macros unless you're only doing very small images to display on the web.  It is not able to reliable select the best focus parts of each image.

Helicon Focus, CombineZP, Microsoft ICE, PTAssembler/Tufuse can all align images for a focus stack. For manual blending, I like Microsoft ICE since it will output the images as layers in Photoshop format. This makes it relatively easy (but tedious) to blend.  I have a 600 image focus stacked pano (mosaic) of an Amarylis that I'm waiting for the software to get better before finishing.  It's 35 frames and was taking about 8 hours to manually blend each frame. Just 7 weeks working full time could finish it   I'm impressed that you were able to complete your project.

The forums at http://www.photomacrography.net have quite a few people who are very knowlegeable about focus stacking.  You may want to show your snowflake image there to get suggestions on how to tweak the settings in Helicon Focus.

p.s. Try using ICE to create a Deep Zoom of the image so we can all enjoy it full size.
« Last Edit: March 09, 2009, 02:04:12 AM by elf » Logged
MarkL
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« Reply #16 on: March 09, 2009, 07:42:21 AM »
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Quote from: DanPBrown
I received a few requests to describe my technique of focus blending by some members here. I finally got a blog on my site and I decided that my first post would be to answer the question.
http://www.danbrownphotography.com/blog/
Dan
http://www.danbrownphotography.com

I don't do much focus blending so this may be a stupid question: why not just just throw all the frames into helicon focus and let the software deal with it?
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Luis Argerich
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« Reply #17 on: March 09, 2009, 08:46:54 AM »
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See previous posts, he already answered that.

Quote from: MarkL
I don't do much focus blending so this may be a stupid question: why not just just throw all the frames into helicon focus and let the software deal with it?
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MarkL
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« Reply #18 on: March 09, 2009, 12:21:41 PM »
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Quote from: DanPBrown
I've used Helicon Focus, I was not impressed with the results. I tried it again just a week ago on a snowflake photo, I thought maybe it would work ok on a flat subject but I was disappointed again.
I have heard that the latest version Photoshop has a focus blending feature. I have also heard that Helicon works better than Photoshop, oh well.
Dan
http://www.danbrownphotography.com

What was wrong with the output from helicon?

I've only used it for landscapes and not macro but have been constantly impressed with the results
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jjj
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« Reply #19 on: March 09, 2009, 03:10:19 PM »
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Quote from: DanPBrown
Yes, when using the lens to focus, not the focus rail method. Do you know of any macro video lenses that could be adapted to a Canon mount and would not breathe?
Dan
I'm afraid not. best ask at a hire place for filming 35mm film. Video lenses won't be any good as they are designed for smaller chips and even 35mm film is not as big as a 35mm stills frame  as the film moves vertically through the camera.
Another advantage to using movie lenses is that they have T-stops not F-stops. A T-stop is the real aperture, F-Stop is the theorectical aperture, not always much difference, but might be for you from something you said about exposure changes when focusing.
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