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DPChallenge Forums >> Individual Photograph Discussion >> Insect Macros
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02/02/2010 09:52:45 AM · #1
Cunningly, I bought my macro lens just as the UK was moving from Autumn (that's Fall!) to Winter, and all of the interesting insects were heading into hiding - or dying.

I have not, therefore, managed to get much practice in the art of insect macros! I did manage to get up to a butterfly sanctuary last weekend and give it a go. The thumbnail is one of the shots I took, which I was initially pleased with, but now, not so much. This guy was sitting on an orange on a pink plate - which doesn't help!

I am hoping for some ideas and thoughts on how to improve - a decent flash (ideally off camera) would be a start to get the lighting better, but how to get the great DOF you see on the really great insect macros on this sight? Without having to freeze the insect or tie it down?! All tips gratefully received.

Copyrighted_Image_Reuse_Prohibited_851073.jpg
02/02/2010 10:36:18 AM · #2
once you have an off camera flash, you can stop down to f/16 or f/22 (be aware that image quality starts to suffer smaller than f/16) and still keep a shutter speed of 1/200. the external flash is key for this type of work.

all things considered, the image you got is excellent!
02/02/2010 11:06:27 AM · #3
I recently learned one trick that I had not known before, but you have to have a very still subject. Use a tripod - and your macro lens - and good lighting....then take 4 images, each one with a different focal spot. When you do your post-processing, assuming you use PS or one with a stacking ability, instead of loading each image separately, click on the File menu and then choose Load Files into Stack. When the dialog opens up, click Add Open Files button and choose your 4 images. Make sure you turn on the Attempt to Align Source images checkbox, then click ok. Once stacked, go to the Layers panel (not the top bar one, but the right side one), and hold ctrl down as you select all 4 layers...then go to Edit menu and choose Auto-blend layers...this step will take a few seconds to manage the layers. Once the dialog box opens, check the Stack Images, and also make sure you checkbox the Seamless Tones and Colors. Click okay and sit back and wait...takes a minute or two but then you will have amazing depth.
02/02/2010 12:36:31 PM · #4
LOL - you're kidding? !! Ill have to try that.

Originally posted by ShutterPug:

I recently learned one trick that I had not known before, but you have to have a very still subject. Use a tripod - and your macro lens - and good lighting....then take 4 images, each one with a different focal spot. When you do your post-processing, assuming you use PS or one with a stacking ability, instead of loading each image separately, click on the File menu and then choose Load Files into Stack. When the dialog opens up, click Add Open Files button and choose your 4 images. Make sure you turn on the Attempt to Align Source images checkbox, then click ok. Once stacked, go to the Layers panel (not the top bar one, but the right side one), and hold ctrl down as you select all 4 layers...then go to Edit menu and choose Auto-blend layers...this step will take a few seconds to manage the layers. Once the dialog box opens, check the Stack Images, and also make sure you checkbox the Seamless Tones and Colors. Click okay and sit back and wait...takes a minute or two but then you will have amazing depth.
02/02/2010 12:39:15 PM · #5
Originally posted by ShutterPug:

I recently learned one trick that I had not known before, but you have to have a very still subject. Use a tripod - and your macro lens - and good lighting....then take 4 images, each one with a different focal spot. When you do your post-processing, assuming you use PS or one with a stacking ability, instead of loading each image separately, click on the File menu and then choose Load Files into Stack. When the dialog opens up, click Add Open Files button and choose your 4 images. Make sure you turn on the Attempt to Align Source images checkbox, then click ok. Once stacked, go to the Layers panel (not the top bar one, but the right side one), and hold ctrl down as you select all 4 layers...then go to Edit menu and choose Auto-blend layers...this step will take a few seconds to manage the layers. Once the dialog box opens, check the Stack Images, and also make sure you checkbox the Seamless Tones and Colors. Click okay and sit back and wait...takes a minute or two but then you will have amazing depth.


Linda, Is this process avialable in photoshop cs3? Thanks!
02/02/2010 01:00:14 PM · #6
Originally posted by kenskid:

LOL - you're kidding? !! Ill have to try that.


Yeah, it's technically called "focus stacking." There's lots of info out there to pick up. Also, the "load files into stack" is under "Scripts," at least in CS4.
If you're using Bridge, it's Tools->Photoshop->Load Files into Photoshop Layers.
Also, it's sorta hit or miss, and when I've done it, it's been kinda dumb about knowing what is and isn't in focus so you'll do well to clean up the masking afterwards.
There are other programs out there that I haven't used but lots of people like. Helicon Focus and Combine ZM are ones I've heard of (though not used). Combine ZM is free, Helicon you must purchase.
02/02/2010 01:02:56 PM · #7
Originally posted by Hot_Pixel:



Linda, Is this process avialable in photoshop cs3? Thanks!


Yes and no. Yes you can do it manually, no it is not automated as in CS4.
You will do the same steps, Scripts->load files into stack, then auto-align. You must then mask them yourself though. CS4 does a decent job of masking on its own, but you end up editing the masking anyway.

Message edited by author 2010-02-02 13:03:22.
02/02/2010 01:24:59 PM · #8
Here's one I did with HeliconFocus, the trial version.
Copyrighted_Image_Reuse_Prohibited_712123.jpg

Originally posted by spiritualspatula:

Originally posted by kenskid:

LOL - you're kidding? !! Ill have to try that.


Yeah, it's technically called "focus stacking." There's lots of info out there to pick up. Also, the "load files into stack" is under "Scripts," at least in CS4.
If you're using Bridge, it's Tools->Photoshop->Load Files into Photoshop Layers.
Also, it's sorta hit or miss, and when I've done it, it's been kinda dumb about knowing what is and isn't in focus so you'll do well to clean up the masking afterwards.
There are other programs out there that I haven't used but lots of people like. Helicon Focus and Combine ZM are ones I've heard of (though not used). Combine ZM is free, Helicon you must purchase.
02/02/2010 01:26:19 PM · #9
Has anyone tried this? Look
02/02/2010 01:46:11 PM · #10
Originally posted by kenskid:

Has anyone tried this? Look

Newer operating systems are advised to use Combine ZM, the one I linked to, which is really just an updated version.. Aside from that, yeah, I've heard some good things but have not personally used them.

Message edited by author 2010-02-02 13:47:20.
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