Want to know how professional photographers achieve perfectly focused landscape photos from foreground to infinity with extraordinary clarity? Read on, we explain what the focus stacking technique is.
Focus stacking for landscape photography
In most landscape photos, you always seek maximum sharpness and the greatest depth of field , so you must first follow a series of steps to achieve these goals:
- Work with neat and clean goals
- Mount the camera on a stable and sturdy tripod
- Disconnect the stabilizer from the optics or sensor
- Raise the mirror if the camera is an SLR
- Use a trigger cable or use the self-timer
- Focus on the hyperfocal to take advantage of the greatest depth of field
Focus stacking: what is it?
This is where we are going to reflect and try to improve results by using the focus stacking technique.
The technique of focus stacking or focus stacking is not new, quite the contrary. But it is certain that until recently it was not used for landscape photography because the sensors and lenses did not display resolution and sharpness levels as great as they are present today.
Focus stacking was mainly used in macro photography, where the shallow depth of field of parfocal lenses was compensated for by a series of photos of different focusing distances which were then stitched together – and by means of specific software – in one and the same image, so that the photographed element is as sharp as possible. A particularly popular practice in the photography of insects or flowers.
This same technique can be applied to landscape photography. We thus make a series of shots with different focus areas in the frame, then we make a blending
, a composition by taking the sharpest and best focused areas of each photo.
Why use focus stacking?
Some will tell me that they focus with the hyperfocal and that they get the maximum depth of field provided by the parfocal lens at the selected aperture, but there two problems arise:
Nearby objects out of focus
The first thing – and the simplest – to understand is no matter how much you focus with the hyperfocal, there will always be a close limit and from this zone to the sensor. , the elements will not be focused.
Cannot achieve maximum sharpness
Here we ask you the following question: Are you sure you are working with maximum sharpness on your photos?
With certain parfocal lenses, to obtain an acceptable hyperfocal distance, one must opt for fairly small apertures. However, it is well known that the maximum sharpness of lenses is obtained with intermediate diaphragm values, from f / 5.6 to f / 8 , in general, which is also called the optimum aperture of the lens. Unless you’re working with high-end quality lenses (and therefore at a premium price) that provide virtually the same sharpness regardless of the aperture you choose.
On the other hand, if the parfocal lens is not a wide angle but a 35 or a 50mm, for example, the hyperfocal distance is too great for the foreground to be completely sharp. This is literally impossible, optically speaking.
In these cases, we can work as in macro photography and perform a series of releases with different focusing distances, then, as we have seen, make a combination of these captures to make a single photo. where the whole frame will be perfectly sharp.
How to take or capture for focus stacking?
The first thing to do is, as always, to analyze the landscape well and choose the right setting. Once the latter has been carried out, we must observe the main elements and their distribution on said frame.
I’m not going to go into composition stories as I would be stepping away from today’s content but you can always take a look at this article on wide angle photography which will give you some keys and tips for photos with successful composition.
Once the elements described above have been taken into account (the tripod, the stabilizer, the mirror, etc.) we will focus on the focusing and we will therefore leave aside the hyperfocal in favor of the focus capture mode stacking.