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  • Focus Stacking To Achieve A Greater Depth of Field

    To achieve greater depth of field in Macro there are techniques one can easily learn.Shooting handheld is one and one must know 3 things.

    1)Shutter speed
    2)F-stop
    3)ISO.


    Before going into the Post processing part,the settings handheld.
    All Manual.Switch off VR/IS/OS for closer subjects.

    1) To make sure the images are sharp adjust the shutter speed.
    Go by the rule 1/focal length you won`t go wrong.
    2) The F-stop ranges from f/11-18
    3) ISO-Its best to use the native ISO of your camera.To have the least amount of noise.But dialing to a higher ISO is possible.

    That said,the lighting/diffusion is all experimental.One must experiment with all these 3 components(Shutter speed,F-stop,ISO)plus the
    intensity of light.Ev(Exposure value is optional but usually kept to 0.)

    For Focus Stacking,multiple shots are fired in the same plane slicing one section by section.
    The issue is when using Flash with the diffuser on.As different flash power settings will give different time for the battery to recover/recharge by itself.Example...A full flash power of 1/1 comparable to power 1/8 the time the battery takes to recharge itself is longer compared to flash power of 1/8.Had been using manual flash settings.

    Techniques of Focus Stacking.
    Pay attention to composition.The Rule of Thirds.
    Watch where the line bisects.
    The moment an interesting subject is close at hand think about composition and visualize framing.

    Click image for larger version

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    How to Focus Stack.
    This is one way I do.Handheld.
    1) Compose
    2) Take a test shot and check the histogram.Any clippings to the right or to the left equates to over or under exposed image.
    3) Fix the focus distance and focus.
    4) Do not move the zoom/focussing ring anymore.
    5) While observing through the view finder slowly move forward and backward.Watch the subject as the magnification traverses through the entire body.Think of how would you like to take the shot.Front first or Tail first.

    I do exhale when I slowly press the trigger.Do not jab the trigger.Firing in short burst.
    Rapid firing will hamper the time needed for the image to write on the memory card.Slowly breathe in still firing short burst.
    Call it Yoga Macro.

    Its always good to do a couple of slow rock back and forth in order to cover all the sections.
    Sometimes in certain situations the frame won`t get the full subject.
    Here is what I do.I start off with one section say upper right then another section upper left,lower right and so forth.
    All this can be done if the subject does not move too drastically.

    Breaking the chain of shots.
    After a series of capture in different section to avoid confusion later when sorting the pictures at home,I take one shot out of focus/somewhere on the ground.This will reduce the time of sorting out the pictures.

    Point to note.
    Different insects respond diffrently.Some are skittish some let you shoot like crazy.
    It is best if an unknown(new subject) was to appear at vision distance,try first your furthest macro working length capability with NL(Natural light)if the light is adequate enough with the VR/IS/OS ON.
    Do not immediately try to focus stack.
    Reason.1)It could be the only record shot you have before it gets spooked and flies/runoff.
    2)You can use the Histogram as a guide to check for exposures and the settings necessary for the finer adjustments when you get closer
    and closer.If it warrants a diffuser set it up.

    A note on the diffuser.
    1) It should be simple and light
    2) The light itself should hold well.
    3) The main concern is obstruction if the diffuser is real big.
    4) It would be good if the diffuser is portable.a slip in slip out.
    5) Having a snap on cable to hang on back while shooting with NL would be good too.Make 2 plamps.
    Continuing on next column.Stay tuned for PP part.
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