Spring flowers — and another photography experiment

Among the many new techniques in photography I’ve tried recently is a cool way to get wonderful depth of field in a complex or large subject using multiple images.  The process is called “focus stacking”, which means that you take several photos (usually on a tripod), as you focus on different areas of the subject.  Then you have to blend them all together in Photoshop.

I decided to experiment with this technique after an overnight rainstorm had left a collection of dew drops on the newly opening Columbine flowers in my front yard.  For this shot, I positioned the camera directly over the flower, pointed down at it, put it on manual focus, and then turned the focus ring very slightly as I clicked the shutter.  Here’s the result of blending 5 images together — I probably needed more images in the stack because there are some holes in my focus, but you’ll get the idea.

raindrops on Columbine

Click on the image for higher resolution and a larger picture to see the finer detail of raindrops on the Columbine.  The top-most flower is pink before it develops fully into what the middle, red flower looks like.  The bottom flower is also in sharp focus in this stacked image.

raindrops on Columbine-

Here’s a sideview of the Columbine flowers to illustrate how much depth of field you would need when shooting straight down on the flower. Even in this view, only part of the plant is in focus with the macro lens.

raindrops on Columbine leaves

The surface of Columbine leaves must be pretty waxy, making the spherical droplets stay coalesced. On other plants in my garden, the drops had already dispersed, making the leaf surfaces slick with water.

5 thoughts on “Spring flowers — and another photography experiment

  1. i guess this is alot like Z-stacking of an image on a microscope! You can also change the size of the stack to get better resolution. Cool stuff!

  2. Raindrops on flowers–are a few of my favorite things. Beautiful shots, Sue. I’ve read a lot about focus stacking, but have not yet tried it out. It’s one of those things like HDR where the theory is easy to grasp, but the execution can be a little tough and requires a bit of fiddling to get the results you want.

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