Focus Stacking with Photoshop for sharper photos

Pretty much all wide-angle landscape shots got something going on in their foreground, but if you’re placing objects to close to the lens it’ll soon get out of the focus area. You basically can’t prevent this physically, but there’s an easy way of fixing this using multiple exposures and Photoshop (should be working in Gimp to, if you’re using that 😛 ) – Focus stacking.

Sharper Photos with Focus Stacking and Photoshop
Without focus stacking the tree in the foreground would be unsharp

Just like you shoot multiple exposures to get a bigger dynamic range for an HDR shot, you can stack different exposures with different focus points and overlay them in Photoshop. A tripod is a must-have for focus stacking.

Before you start to edit your photo

Before we can start editing the picture with Photoshop, you need to shoot the different images first (lol really?). It’s really simple, just place your DSLR where you want to have it. Then set your focus to infinite, hit the release, now you have to gradually decrement the focusing distance. As you go further down with the focusing distance don’t forget to shoot (don’t forget – we need several images to blend over and extend the depth of field). Of course this could be a problem with moving things such as animals.

Aligning your pictures

Once you finished taking those shots, start up Photoshop, place your shots over each other, select all (click on the layer at the bottom then hit shit + click on the top layer) and go to Edit > Auto-Align Layers ..

Aligning your pictures with Photoshop
Auto-Aligning layers in Photoshop

Blending the images

Once the aligning process is finished (can actually take a few minutes) go to Edit > Auto-Blend Layers .. and choose Stack Images then hit OK.

Blending your pictures with Photoshop
Stacking the images in Photshop

That’s it, easy focus stacking in just 3 simple steps. By the way, you can use this technique also for macro photography. For example if you want to get a really close up shot of a flower and you want the whole flower to be sharp.

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Author Description

Christian Möhrle

Photographing landscapes since 2009, trying to help out the lovely photography community with tutorials, workshops and more

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