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. 😎