I’ve been a macro photography fan forever. It’s an awesome frontier of photography with literally limitless options for creativity and subject matter. I’ve got the 105mm Micro Nikkor f/2.8 and it’s been a phenomenal workhorse of a lens, especially when paired on the D800 (or any newer super-mega-pretzel sensor). One thing that was missing from my macro photography was the ability to stack images and make one ultra-sharp, hyper-focal image. When you’re shooting macro, it’s impossible to get everything in focus the way you want even stopped way down to f/7Billion.
Enter the wonders of Photoshop. I never used to use it. I had a stand alone version Lightroom that I kept using forever because I didn’t want to move to Adobe’s
RIPOFF subscription system. However, when I upgraded to Mac OS X Catalina (the WORST version of Apple software I’ve ever used and my biggest regret in computing), it upgraded to only 64-bit software so my old 32-bit version of Lightroom was no good no mo’. I was forced to upgrade to the subscription from Adobe and I got Photoshop for the first time. I had always used open source software GIMP which was great, but it didn’t have the auto-magic image stacking ability like Photoshop does. Having a computer do all the layer masking stuff for you is the best thing ever.
There’s lots of elaborate guides on how to do this on the internet but here’s how I did it. You bulk edit your macro photos in Lightroom to normalize colours and whatever else you want, then:
- Export the files to full-size JPEG
- In Photoshop, go up to the File menu in the Menu Bar, choose Scripts, then choose Load Files into Stack.
- In the Load Layers dialog box, set Use to Files, then click Browse. Navigate to your images on your computer, select them and click Open.
- Back in the Load Layers dialog box, select Attempt to Automatically Align Source Images, then click OK.
- In the Layers panel, click on the top layer, then Shift-click on the bottom layer to select all layers.
- Go up to the Edit menu in the Menu Bar and choose Auto-Blend Layers.
- Crop the image with the Crop Tool to remove problem areas around the edges.
And that’s it! You get a glorious product in the end that is sharp and detailed all the way through your intendedly sharp region of the photo. It’s pretty slick.
So that’s it. If you ever wondered how people got those incredibly sharp and detailed macro photos, this is how. I always remember seeing macro photos of bugs that were razor sharp all the way through and wondering what manner of sorcery it was! But when you look up the magician’s sleeve, it’s not that tricksy after all. 😎
We’re having a heat wave! And it is fantastic! Our weather has gone absolutely crazy. We’ve swung from -50 billionºC with a windchill to +6ºC. For January in Saskatchewan, that is pure craziness. We’ve been hibernating in our homes for the past few weeks so it feels tremendous to get outside and grab some fresh air and take some photos! I was dying to get out and shoot the new 50mm 1.8G lens. So, when the weather was unbelievably great, I locked it on the Df and went for a walk with the family. It was super great. I can’t overstate how great this 50mm is. It’s so light on the Df that it feels like you’re carrying a mirrorless system. And it performs great.
For this walk I had it stopped down to around f/8. The light was extremely bright and contrasty so I set my picture style to Monochrome, even though I shot RAW. It’s cool to see the shots in black and white in camera, but know you still have colour to work with in post. To match the high contrast lighting conditions, I pushed these files with heavy contrast in Lightroom. I wanted to capture that iconic “street photography” look. It was a lot of fun! And, there was a lot of laundry to do when we got home. Thankfully, that’s not my department. 😎
In my last post about this, I had heralded a flash based Mac Mini as the ultimate Photo Editor. Whilst I still think there is merit to that setup – and may still be – I went another direction.
Apple didn’t update the Mac Mini in the last big system update. I thought for sure they would but they didn’t. Instead, they rather secretly released a new iMac as indicated in this fstoppers article, back in September. I looked at the new specs but have been waiting for the new Mac Mini. However, my old iMac crashed a very slow and horrible death. I didn’t lose any data thanks to my gong show JBOD backup system. But I’m safe for now. I’ve been operating of a Macbook Air (painfully) for editing photos and other work related activities. So I decided that I can’t wait any longer and pulled the trigger on a new iMac.
Here’s the specs of what I got and why. I basically got the identical setup recommended in the fstoppers article. 27″ screen and I got the 3.5Ghz i7 with a 256 SSD. I got 8GB of factory RAM but have since ordered a 32GB upgrade from Amazon for less than half price of Apple’s factory installed $600 magical RAM made of unicorn horns. And, I upgraded the GPU and got the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 780M 4GB GDDR5. I’m not sold that Lightroom will actually make use of this. Photoshop will and Aperture 3 will. But Lightroom currently won’t. Perhaps in the future the program architecture will make more use of it. But I thought I would get it just in case. But by maxing the processor and the RAM I think I will see more gains from Lightroom.
So essentially that’s that. Fastest available everything and it should smoke! But the missing component is still the storage/backup solution. I have decided to once again pass on Drobo. I’m sure they make great products. But their proprietary beyond-RAID thing bothers me. If the enclosure ever dies, you have to get another to resurrect your data. That has never set well with me. So, I went with a 6TB LaCie 2Big Thunderbolt drive enclosure. I’m going to RAID 1 that puppy for redundancy. The best thing ever is that it’s super fast to copy data and, if a drive ever calves I can go get another from a local store and rebuild the RAID. Or, take the remaining drive and copy the data from it to some other drive in the interim. Not so with Drobo. So the LaCie seems to be a good solution for my needs. I’m going to store all my photos on it and maybe even edit from it as the connection bandwidth should be more than capable.
So that’s that. I’ll post an update on this article in the future to let you know how it all performs. Sometime next week I should be receiving the goods. More to come. 😎