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Disturbing Focus Stacking

grnzbra grnzbra

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grnzbra Silver Member Nikonian since 28th Sep 2011
Sun 08-May-22 11:43 AM
I am finding that looking at a focus stacked landscape is rather disturbing; it seems rather harsh. The first picture below is the last frame of a stack. The focus is at the rear of the picture. Below it is the stacked image. Looking at the stacked image is rather uncomfortable. Is this just me or am I doing the focus stacking wrong? The first of the pictures was processed in Lightroom. The rest then had the processing duplicated. After that they were sent to PhotoShop for stacking. There were five frames in the original stack. By the way, focus stacking close ups of flowers does not bother me in the same way.

UNSTACKED

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STACKED
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Attachment#1 (jpg file)
Attachment#2 (jpg file)

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aolander aolander

Is from: Nevis, US
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#1. "RE: Disturbing Focus Stacking" | In response to Reply # 0

aolander Registered since 15th Sep 2006
Sun 08-May-22 02:47 PM | edited Sun 08-May-22 03:07 PM by aolander
I'm not seeing what you're calling "harsh". More detail in the foreground rocks in the stacked image. Since the front to back distance isn't that great, you probably would have enough DOF to shoot one shot at f/11, focusing on the first flowers. Although I see you shot it at 200mm, so maybe not.

Alan

elec164 elec164

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#2. "RE: Disturbing Focus Stacking" | In response to Reply # 0

elec164 Silver Member Ribbon awarded because of his contribution to the community in addition to his expertise  Nikonian since 15th Jan 2009
Mon 09-May-22 12:37 AM | edited Mon 09-May-22 12:37 AM by elec164
I agree with Alan in that I'm not sure what you are referring to as harsh that disturbs you.

For me having the two images at different sizes makes it a bit difficult to evaluate and compare.

Pete


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f5titan f5titan

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#3. "RE: Disturbing Focus Stacking" | In response to Reply # 0

f5titan Platinum Member Nikonian since 12th Jul 2006
Mon 09-May-22 05:16 AM
My eyes sensed and my brain asked "where is the depth of field?" All near to far objects are equally in focus. My macro focus stacking images of jewelry lacked the far separation of elements of this scene. Maybe I must get used to a new way of considering landscape images. I think that I will try this when the Pacific rains subside.

"Great things are not done by impulse but by a series of small things brought together." Vincent Van Gogh
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grnzbra grnzbra

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#4. "RE: Disturbing Focus Stacking" | In response to Reply # 2

grnzbra Silver Member Nikonian since 28th Sep 2011
Mon 09-May-22 07:14 AM
I'm not sure why they are different sizes.

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Pete O

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#5. "RE: Disturbing Focus Stacking" | In response to Reply # 0

Pete O Gold Member Nikonian since 21st Dec 2016
Mon 09-May-22 07:57 AM
What mode did you use to capture each frame? Were they done in manual mode, or did you allow the camera to set the exposure for each image?
It appears that there is an exposure vignette to the upper corners which creates a bright arch on the exposed rocks. This draws the eye to scan in an arch that does not feel natural.

If I take the first image and overlay/re-scale the second to match, the upper corners are darker in the merged image, exacerbating this effect. The merge itself looks great.

The exposure between frames may have been caused by a change in ambient light from cloud movement or movement of surrounding trees. I suspect that the water movement between frames may have changed the exposure of the rocks, and an average between all stacked frames results in the darker upper corners.

The software may have averaged the exposures during stacking and emphasized the lights and dark areas. Depending upon what stacking software you use, you may have options on how the software deals with differences in exposure between frames.

I have had success in similar images by overlaying a single frame on a stacked image and experimenting with blend modes. Perhaps an average blend mode will help, or even a screen blend mode with a 25%opacity will lighten the darker areas to remove the effect, or some dodge and burn could also help.
elec164 elec164

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#6. "RE: Disturbing Focus Stacking" | In response to Reply # 4

elec164 Silver Member Ribbon awarded because of his contribution to the community in addition to his expertise  Nikonian since 15th Jan 2009
Mon 09-May-22 08:28 AM
>I'm not sure why they are different sizes.

Well looking at the EXIF, one is 1193x794 and the other is 904x601.

So clearly they are different pixel dimensions, question is when and why that happened.

Pete


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grnzbra grnzbra

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#7. "RE: Disturbing Focus Stacking" | In response to Reply # 5

grnzbra Silver Member Nikonian since 28th Sep 2011
Mon 09-May-22 07:23 PM
Shot with a Z6 and 70-200mm S lens
All five original frames were shot manual.
ISO 160
200 mm
f/5.0
1/30 sec

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Pete O

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#8. "RE: Disturbing Focus Stacking" | In response to Reply # 7

Pete O Gold Member Nikonian since 21st Dec 2016
Mon 09-May-22 09:12 PM
Applying adjustment to the individual frames before stacking versus adjusting the stacked image.

Capturing the individual frames in manual, converting them, un-adjusted, into image files, and combining them into a stacked image, versus applying adjustments to the individual frames, converting them into an image file, and then stacking them, may not sound like a great difference, but can make a big difference in the final result.

Consider what happened when we apply a curves adjustment to an image. If we move the middle of the curve up, we increase the level of the R,G, and B channels. However, as both ends of the line remain anchored to their respective corners, we create a curved line drawing the center of the curve upwards. However, the rate of adjustment from black to mid-tone rises faster, and the rate of change from mid-tone to white rises slower than the original.

Now consider that this curves adjustment is a layer and that we can copy this layer and apply it to another image. If the new image is brighter to begin with, the result will differ from an image that was darker to begin with.

In your image, I suspect that the water was reflecting light onto the rocks and towards the camera, and due to the rippled surface, the amount of reflection between frames changed for the rocks and water but remained the same for the other areas.

Applying the same curves adjustment has the same effect on the areas without the sunlight reflected off the water, but a different result between frames on areas that have a changed amount of light reflected off the water. In other words, the brighter regions get brighter while the darker areas remain the same.

In many cases, it does not matter so much if you make adjustments before or after stacking the images, but in this case, I believe you stumbled upon one where it may be better to adjust after stacking.

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aolander aolander

Is from: Nevis, US
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#9. "RE: Disturbing Focus Stacking" | In response to Reply # 8

aolander Registered since 15th Sep 2006
Mon 09-May-22 09:43 PM
I don't think all this has anything to do with it. I see only subtle differences between the images, and being slightly different sizes, 200 pixels, on the long side, doesn't matter much.

Alan

grnzbra grnzbra

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#10. "RE: Disturbing Focus Stacking" | In response to Reply # 8

grnzbra Silver Member Nikonian since 28th Sep 2011
Tue 10-May-22 06:33 AM
So, as a general rule, should I stack the image and then apply adjustments?

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Pete O

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#11. "RE: Disturbing Focus Stacking" | In response to Reply # 10

Pete O Gold Member Nikonian since 21st Dec 2016
Tue 10-May-22 06:57 AM | edited Tue 10-May-22 06:58 AM by Pete O
I do not know what software you use for stacking images, or, what process you use for processing images.

My process is to bring raw images into the processing software and evaluate the images for use.
I personally prefer to use Affinity Photo for stacking and have had success with macro image stacks by allowing affinity to stack the raw images, however, this consumes a lot of computer time. images are faster to stack than raw files.

The Affinity stack allows you to select the individual image files within the stack after processing and you can mask areas that you don't like or select a different stack region if desired. This is especially useful with macro image stacks and can be a get out of jail free card if you discover something moved within a frame during capture, you can select the best of the rest from the images on either side within the stack to replace that area. (you can also do the same when doing manual stacks)

This is a very intense way of doing things but achieves amazing results. You can do the same with Photoshop, but I prefer the Affinity UI.

I will apply this caveat, I sometimes don't like the results with Affinity Photo developing raw images, in which case, I use Adobe Camera Raw via Adobe Bridge and stack the DNG files instead.

I apply image sharpening and adjustments as the stacked file are converted into an image file that can then be post-processed as desired.

Stacking is something you need to practice and become fluent in the software and what can be achieved. Practice doing both, stacking processed and unprocessed image files, and doing side-by-side evaluations on your equipment, because adjusting digital images on a computer is a subjective exercise that differs between systems and hardware.

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grnzbra grnzbra

Is from: Springfield, US
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#12. "RE: Disturbing Focus Stacking" | In response to Reply # 11

grnzbra Silver Member Nikonian since 28th Sep 2011
Tue 10-May-22 07:43 AM | edited Tue 10-May-22 08:53 AM by grnzbra
Thank you for the tip about masking off areas. I ran into a problem with cascading water that should be able to be solved by selecting single frames for those areas.
You mention image files and raw files. What is an image file?

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aolander aolander

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#13. "RE: Disturbing Focus Stacking" | In response to Reply # 12

aolander Registered since 15th Sep 2006
Tue 10-May-22 08:13 AM
Image file = your photo, raw, jpeg, tiff, whatever it might be.

Raw file = a raw image file

Alan

elec164 elec164

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#14. "RE: Disturbing Focus Stacking" | In response to Reply # 9

elec164 Silver Member Ribbon awarded because of his contribution to the community in addition to his expertise  Nikonian since 15th Jan 2009
Tue 10-May-22 08:13 AM
>different sizes, 200 pixels, on the long side, doesn't matter much.

That 200 pixels is a linear dimension but image resolution is by area.

When considered that way it's about a 43% reduction or near 2:1 pixel reduction. Personally I would consider that significant being that those pixels aren't just eliminated (as in cropping) but instead blended into surrounding pixels. That to me alters the tonal values significantly enough to matter when evaluating something like this.

Making different sized prints of the same resolution file is different than displaying equal sized images on screen from two different resolution files of the same capture. Of course YMMV always applies.

Pete


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elec164 elec164

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#15. "RE: Disturbing Focus Stacking" | In response to Reply # 13

elec164 Silver Member Ribbon awarded because of his contribution to the community in addition to his expertise  Nikonian since 15th Jan 2009
Tue 10-May-22 08:17 AM
>Image file = your photo, raw, jpeg, tiff, whatever it might
>be.

I guess it may depend on software used, but I (as Pete O) also use Affinity Photo and find that a focus stack using JPEG's or TIFF's comes out better than when using NEF's. Personally I don't care much for Affinity Photo's raw converter.

Pete


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elec164 elec164

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#16. "RE: Disturbing Focus Stacking" | In response to Reply # 12

elec164 Silver Member Ribbon awarded because of his contribution to the community in addition to his expertise  Nikonian since 15th Jan 2009
Tue 10-May-22 08:21 AM | edited Tue 10-May-22 08:26 AM by elec164
>You mention image files and raw files. What is an image file?

Personally I don't consider the NEF an image file but a file containing the raw sensor data that can be converted into an image file. Image files would be files that contain data that is directly mappable into a screen image such as BMP, JPEG, TIFF,,,,, etc.

edited to add:

An NEF is a proprietary file format based upon the TIFF file format. So in essence all of them are files,,, the further distinction is from what the file contains (raw sensor data or image file data).

Pete


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aolander aolander

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#17. "RE: Disturbing Focus Stacking" | In response to Reply # 15

aolander Registered since 15th Sep 2006
Tue 10-May-22 08:25 AM | edited Tue 10-May-22 08:31 AM by aolander
When I save these images to my computer and view them, the pixel dimensions are 800 x 532 and 799 x 532. And they look exactly the same size when viewed in this post.

Alan

elec164 elec164

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#18. "RE: Disturbing Focus Stacking" | In response to Reply # 17

elec164 Silver Member Ribbon awarded because of his contribution to the community in addition to his expertise  Nikonian since 15th Jan 2009
Tue 10-May-22 08:33 AM
>When I save these images to my computer and view them, the
>pixel dimensions are 800 x 532 and 799 x 532. And they look
>exactly the same size when view in this post.

Interesting. When I save them they are 1193x794 and 904x601, just as stated in the EXIF data.

Pete


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aolander aolander

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#19. "RE: Disturbing Focus Stacking" | In response to Reply # 15

aolander Registered since 15th Sep 2006
Tue 10-May-22 08:36 AM
Ok, a raw file is an image data file.

Alan

Pete O

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#20. "RE: Disturbing Focus Stacking" | In response to Reply # 12

Pete O Gold Member Nikonian since 21st Dec 2016
Tue 10-May-22 08:38 AM | edited Tue 10-May-22 08:47 AM by Pete O
A raw file is a lossless data file that records the uncompressed data from your camera sensor. It is sometimes referred to as a digital negative.

Think of a raw file as the raw “ingredients” of a photo that will need to be developed to reveal a photo.

Raw files are quite a bit larger than JPEG or TIFF files. Most professional photographers shoot in raw because it gives them more information to work within the post-processing phase.

Once a file is converted into a JPEG or TIFF file, the raw data becomes a file that contains a developed image. Any adjustments or sharpening applied during development has been baked into that image. A TIFF file is the preferred filetype for people who print images because they can retain a greater dynamic range, a JPEG file is the preferred filetype of digital images because they are compressed to a smaller size, and much of the image data is lost.
A raw file is not an image file, it is a data file.

The advantage of using raw files is that you can develop that photograph over and over, without destroying the original. The filetype contains more details such as shadow detail and can be manipulated more than a processed image file.

Edited to ad,
Most DSLR camaras can record data as a raw data file or as a processed JPEG or TIFF file. The settings on the camera that can apply picture profiles such as vivid, black and white, etc, are applied in-camera prior to saving that image. The NIKON raw file type is NEF.

You can get the camera to save raw data files and JPEG image files at the same time, some people use the JPEG as a backup image, or as a small image file that can be transferred quickly via the internet or wireless transfer.

You can fit more Holliday snaps onto a memory card as JPEG files because they contain less data.

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grnzbra grnzbra

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#21. "RE: Disturbing Focus Stacking" | In response to Reply # 14

grnzbra Silver Member Nikonian since 28th Sep 2011
Tue 10-May-22 08:39 AM
I don't know what happened here, but the pictures that were sent are:
UNSTACKED - 3616x2406
STACKED - 3614x2403

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grnzbra grnzbra

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#22. "RE: Disturbing Focus Stacking" | In response to Reply # 20

grnzbra Silver Member Nikonian since 28th Sep 2011
Tue 10-May-22 08:59 AM
>Raw files are quite a bit larger than JPEG or TIFF files.

That's rather interesting. This photo is 8.45mb as a JPG, 27.3mb as a RAW file (Nikon Z6) and 138mb as a TIFF file. (this is not a stacked image).

Click on image to view larger version


Attachment#1 (jpg file)

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elec164 elec164

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#23. "RE: Disturbing Focus Stacking" | In response to Reply # 20

elec164 Silver Member Ribbon awarded because of his contribution to the community in addition to his expertise  Nikonian since 15th Jan 2009
Tue 10-May-22 09:13 AM
>A raw file is a lossless data file that records the
>uncompressed data from your camera sensor. It is sometimes
>referred to as a digital negative.

While I agree that the NEF contains raw sensor data, the level of compression and whether its lossless is another issue. It can be compressed or uncompressed as well as lossy or non-lossy.

>Raw files are quite a bit larger than JPEG or TIFF files

Compression aside, file size is directly a function of pixel dimensions and bit-depth. While in general NEF's are larger than JPEG's (depends upon the level of compression of the JPEG's) they are generally smaller than 16-bit TIFF's.

Pete


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Pete O

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#24. "RE: Disturbing Focus Stacking" | In response to Reply # 22

Pete O Gold Member Nikonian since 21st Dec 2016
Tue 10-May-22 09:16 AM
A TIFF file CAN also record adjustment records which save details about some adjustments that have been made to the file. This adds to the file size.

TIFF photos are used mostly externally. If you want to send someone a high-resolution image with all the details and give them some room for manipulation abilities, uncompressed TIFF files are preferred.

Raw files are also uncompressed, it is like the digital equivalent of a film negative. Unlike TIFF, a RAW file first needs to be processed or developed using an Image Data Converter or other compatible software. The benefit of this format is that you can adjust various attributes such as contrast, saturation, sharpness, white balance, and others without degrading the image. Afterwards, it can be saved to another image format like TIFF or JPEG. Consider a TIFF file to be a raw file that has been unpacked.

Raw files from the image sensor have only one value for each pixel (red, green OR blue) while a TIFF has all three values for each pixel. During development, like converting a raw data file for viewing them on a computer, the missing values are interpolated from neighboring pixels (called demosaicing).

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elec164 elec164

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#25. "RE: Disturbing Focus Stacking" | In response to Reply # 24

elec164 Silver Member Ribbon awarded because of his contribution to the community in addition to his expertise  Nikonian since 15th Jan 2009
Tue 10-May-22 10:04 AM
>Raw files from the image sensor have only one value for each
>pixel (red, green OR blue) while a TIFF has all three values
>for each pixel.

Indeed and that's why TIFF files in general are larger than NEF's. Put another way the NEF has 12-bit /14-bit per pixel whereas a 16-bit/channel TIFF has 48-bits per pixel.

Pete


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elec164 elec164

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#26. "RE: Disturbing Focus Stacking" | In response to Reply # 21

elec164 Silver Member Ribbon awarded because of his contribution to the community in addition to his expertise  Nikonian since 15th Jan 2009
Tue 10-May-22 11:57 AM | edited Tue 10-May-22 11:58 AM by elec164
When embedding an image into a post there is a restriction on size in both pixel dimensions and file size.

If you click on the 'More info about attachments' you will see an explanation on the restrictions. Part of which says if the pixel dimensions exceed that which is allowed, the image will be resized to fit restrictions. I believe there are ways around that but don't attempt it so am unsure of how to do it.

G