A wet Monday

Wet and grey in GB today so I have been messing about with my camera, trying out some new techniques to get better focus.

 

This little chap is about 5mm long excluding his antennae and is siting fairly still on some lavender flowers in our conservatory. So I could photograph him without getting wet.

The next photo is the product of focus stacking 3 shots… obviously he moved, but it makes for an interesting multi antennae beast. 

Daddy Long-legs Spider – Pholcus phalangioides

This photo is a result of ‘focus stacking’. It is not 100% successful. I took about 6 or 8 photos by gradually moving the camera forward on a ‘Photo rail’ whilst retaining the same shutter speed, ISO and all other settings. I then put all the photos into Photoshop and stacked them together.spider-stack2

 

The problem is that in places the spiders legs seem to get blurred, and in some areas the background is sharp and well focused and in other areas it is out of focus.  I prefer the out of focus background so I have photo shoped the image to hopefully make all of the background out of focus.

Also there is one place on one of its legs where you can see a definite break in the continuity of the leg.!!!!

So does anyone have some tips on how to improve this focus stacking technique? I am wondering if using less images would be an improvement. The photo above is the product of about 8 images. Also would it be better to up the ISO and then increase shutter speed to increase the depth of field in each individual photo.

Here is another photo in which I have done less stuff in photoshop after the initial focus stacking. You can see the flaws in the spiders legs.spider-stack

Focus stacking, my new toy

Thanks to the Forest of Dean camera club, I was alerted to a bit of software called  photoshop plus which is an add on for cheapskates like me  who only have photoshop elements.  This add on, which only cost £12, will do lots of things, most of which I will probably never use, but the feature which I bought it for is the ability to merge several photos together and thus build up one photo with a greater depth of field.focus-stacking1

Ideal if like me you take lots of photos of wild flowers, mosses, fungi or small creatures. Above is the product of 9 photos merged together.

I was using a canon 6D with an EF 24mm to 105mm lens and a 36mm Kenko extension tube. This does not give you much depth of field. Here is the first photo out of the 9 that I took.focus-stacking2

Here is photo number 4focus-stacking3

and here is the last one.focus-stacking4

As you can see the depth of field is very small. All you do to merge the photos, is load your stack of photos onto photoshop, in the right order and then press a few buttons and wait and it does it all for you.  You can see in my first photo there is one bit which is sort of central and this is not in focus. This is probably because I was adjusting the focus manually and must have skipped through that zone a bit too quickly.

However I have also purchase a macro photo rail which allows you to slowly move the camera forward by a set amount and thus cover all the zones equally.  These vary in price but there are a lot available on ebay for around £20. Mine will arrive in about a weeks time.

Finally the photo is part of a bird made from coloured beads which came from Maputo in Mozambique…. just incase you were wondering.  It was too wet and cold to go out in the garden and find a suitable subject.