Why I NEVER Focus Stack my Photos…

Do you struggle with achieving sharp focus in your photos? Have you considered focus stacking as a solution? Many photographers swear by the technique of focus stacking to ensure that every detail in their photos is sharp and clear. However, as a photographer, I have found that I NEVER focus stack my photos. In this blog, I will explain my reasons for choosing not to focus stack and share the alternative techniques I use to achieve sharp focus in my photography. If you’re curious about why focus stacking may not be the best choice for all photographers, keep reading to discover my perspective on this popular technique.







Why I NEVER Focus Stack my Photos

Why I NEVER Focus Stack my Photos

Introduction

Hello everybody and welcome to today’s video which is either going to be about focus stacking and why i don’t do it or it’s going to be about hay fever just 10 minutes of me sneezing and probably crying because of my allergies should we roll the dice also today’s video is sponsored by Luminar you didn’t expect me to say that did you yes luminar the amazing software that some of you have been telling me to use for years i’ve started using it in the last few weeks and i’m gonna have the opportunity to give some of you a free copy of luminar which Is very exciting so stay tuned for that first off though i want to talk about focus stacking and why it is that i don’t typically focus that which I’ve mentioned a few times in videos i don’t think i’ve ever explained why hence some of you have asked me about it

What is Focus Stacking?

Now focus stacking if you don’t know is a method used when you’ve got a really deep scene to keep everything in focus so traditionally if for example my face was right up close to this lens and i wanted that in focus but i also wanted what was in the background in focus so In this instance this light but let’s say we’re outside and there’s a mountain range and so you wanted the mountains in focus as well well traditionally hang on you know when a sneeze is right there well traditionally what you would do is use a really tiny Aperture like f22 if your lens allows it and you would hope that that was a narrow enough aperture to get everything in focus there are a couple of problems with doing that though if you use a really narrow aperture for example you’re probably going to end up with a really slow shutter speed So your subject might be moving or your camera might be moving even if you’re on a tripod if you’re out on a windy day also lenses very rarely perform all that well at apertures like f22 and often you end up with diffraction and just a result that’s nowhere near as Sharp as if you had used a moderate aperture so focus stacking aims to solve this simply by stacking a few different images together that are focused in different places so yeah that’s what focus stacking is

My Experience with Focus Stacking

i used to use focus stacking all the time particularly when i was a composite photographer Because if for example i wanted to put a shower cap on the gurken building in london then i needed to make sure that both the building and the shower cap were completely in focus from front to back because if i didn’t let’s say for example the shower cap
Wasn’t in focus at the back but the building was in focus all the way through well it wouldn’t look very realistic so what i’d do is make sure that everything was in focus and then i could use software to introduce things like field blur If i did want some areas of the image to be blurred uh so yeah that’s probably what i’ve used focus stacking most in the past i’ve also used it for product photography so for example if i wanted to take some photos of my watch then chances are i’d use focus stacking To make sure that i had the whole face in focus if that’s what i wanted to do because i’d want to use moderate apertures to get the sharpest results but when you use moderate apertures not much of the image is in focus so you need to stack Images together to get more in focus at maximum sharpness now focus stacking is also used by landscape photographers outdoor photographers in um in some instances and i never really do that and it’s for a couple of reasons first off i very rarely take images that have got Deep enough scenes to warrant the need for focus stacking for example the thumbnail image for this video is a terrible example of an image that would ever need to be focused stacked it’s not particularly deep the closest thing is like i don’t know 30 yards away which does not warrant a Deep scene if the closest thing was 30 inches away and i wanted to focus all the way to infinity that would be a pretty deep scene but the image that i used in this thumbnail you’d never need to focus stack that and to be honest that’s fairly typical Of most of my photography i very rarely have something really close to the camera and something really far away and as a result i don’t need to focus stack all that much now when i do have a scene like that where i’ve got something really close to the camera And also things really far away i never want to have both of those things in focus now some of you might have been hoping that i was going to cause some controversy by saying that i don’t want to do that because it’s the wrong thing to do it’s not a technically correct Way of working or something along those lines absolutely not it’s completely personal preference i’ve seen some great images that focus front to back that i really like it’s just not what i like to do for my personal photography and the reason for that is that well all of the lessons i’ve ever Learned about photography i think could be distilled into one particular theme and that theme is simplicity and i think you could make a perfectly reasonable argument to suggest that having an image that’s focused front to back makes things simpler but my personal take on simplicity Is that you can make an image much more simple by that not being the case so i read a book a few years ago called thinking fast and slow and what i took from that book is that the brain in many cases is quite sort of lazy not lazy but it likes To take shortcuts it likes to jump to conclusions when it thinks it can skip out some of the work and that being the case when i’m trying to take a photo of something i try and make sure that the brain has to do as little work as possible to get to Whatever i’m trying to show the viewer so ultimately the name of the game quickly becomes avoid distractions and there are loads of ways that you might avoid distractions in photography so you might crop your photos if you’ve got things that are distracting around the corners of the frame you might clone Some of your images to get rid of some of the distractions that are more towards the middle of the frame perhaps you might use contrast so you might use really dark elements of an image to draw attention to the lighter parts of an image you could use Color so you could study the color wheel work out what’s the dominant color in a frame and then if you’ve got something that you want people to focus on you could then use the opposite color to draw attention to that particular thing and you can use bokeh which if you don’t Know is basically a word for out of focus blur now what i thought i’d do is quickly demonstrate the power of this based on one of my favorite films by the legendary director quentin tarantino so in this scene you can see an army general and a soldier i don’t know the ranks and The the particular military terminology but there’s two people in a room having a conversation basically but in this shot as you can see the soldier is still in the frame but out of focus and the camera isn’t focused on him and therefore we are not focused on him Now the fact that he’s in the frame is important because it reminds you…

Conclusion

In conclusion, my decision not to focus stack my photos is a personal preference based on the concept of simplicity. While focus stacking can be useful in certain situations, I find that I rarely encounter scenes that require it in my photography. Additionally, I believe that simplicity in an image is achieved not by having everything in focus, but by eliminating distractions and guiding the viewer’s attention. Ultimately, the goal is to convey the intended message with as little effort from the viewer’s brain as possible. This is why I choose not to focus stack my photos and instead focus on capturing moments with simplicity in mind.


FAQ: Why I NEVER Focus Stack my Photos

Q: What is focus stacking and why do some photographers use it?

A: Focus stacking is a technique where multiple images at different focal points are combined to create a final image with extended depth of field. Some photographers use it to ensure sharpness throughout the entire image, especially in macro photography.

Q: Why do you choose not to focus stack your photos?

A: Personally, I believe that capturing a single, well-focused image is more authentic and true to the original scene. I prefer to hone my skills in achieving perfect focus in-camera rather than relying on post-processing techniques.

Q: Are there any advantages to not focus stacking photos?

A: Yes, by not focus stacking, I am able to maintain the natural aesthetics of the scene and the original composition. I also save time in post-processing and maintain a more streamlined workflow.

I hope you find useful my article Why I NEVER Focus Stack my Photos…, I also recommend you to read my other posts in my blog at this link.

If you need help with anything join the community or do not hesitate to contact me.

Best of luck! and follow your passion.

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