Sunday morning. Snow flurries. Perfect. Time to go outside and play.
Nikon Df at the ready, the Mitakon Zhongyi 20mm f/2 4.5X super-macro on the chassis.
Here’s been my problem. I can get some amazingly tight photos of snowflakes and all their beauty … but if I don’t have the camera in perfect alignment with the snowflake – if that lens isn’t square with the surface of the snowflake – then part of the snowflake will be tack-sharp and part of the snowflake will be blanket-fuzzy. Ugh.
I need to fix this. What to do, what to do…
And eventually, I discovered that if you take several photos of an object – and if at least one portion of the picture is sharp in each photo – you can stack the pictures together and PhotoShop will create a fully tack-sharp image for you from all the pictures.
At this point in time, every photographer in the world is laughing at me. “Ha ha ha ha, Chuck Miller didn’t know about photo stacking! Oh my God this is hilarious!! What a clown!!!”
Hey, look. If you don’t NEED to use focus stacking, then there’s never a reason to know HOW to use it, right? Well, now I have a need … and now I have to do it.
So I took several pictures of a snowflake. This section was in focus, this section over here was in focus, but they weren’t all in focus together.
And after stacking the images together, aligning them, and following the steps denoted in a YouTube clip…
Boom. Meet the new “king of the snow mountain.”
But it’s still snowing outside. Can I take a better picture?
Let’s find out.
The cloth has gathered some more snowflakes. I look around the fabric here and there…
Oh look, here’s one.
Four photos taken. Time to combine them.
Holy cow, not only did I get the snowflake in sharpness, I’ve gotten the velvet threads in sharpness as well.
God. Freakin’ Damn. New King of the Mountain.
I am so close right now. Closer than I’ve ever been.
I check the weather forecast. There’s at least one more snowstorm coming next week.
This is better than I could have ever imagined.
But I can’t settle for “just good enough” now.
Not when I’m this close to the winning picture.
And I have a new tool – focus stacking – to get that image.