I just recently taught a Photoshop Layers workshop and one of the most appreciated techniques was when I demonstrated Focus Blending. So, I thought you all might enjoy seeing the technique as well.
Focus blending is an incredible tool that is primarily used in Macro photography but can have some great benefits for wide angle landscape photography as well. The general ideas is that you take photos of the same subject while focusing at different parts of the subject...like slicing up your subject into equal parts from the foreground to the background, to maximize sharpness throughout. In macro photography, this can be extremely useful when wanting to maintain an out of focus background but having every part of your subject in sharp focus. In wide angle landscape photography, instead of having to push your aperture to f/22 which typically degrades the image and causes vignetting on certain lenses, you can set your aperture to f/8 or f/11 and simply take 3 or 4 images, changing where you place the focus point from image to image.
I don't want to go into too much detail on capturing these images as that can be an entirely different post. Here, I'd just like to tell you how to put them together in Photoshop.
You start with however many images you need to get the entire subject in focus. In the demo below, I just needed 2. In this image, I focused on the foreground bud. In the second, on the background bud. I did not want to shoot this at f/22 because the soft background would have been in partial focus and would have become distracting. Not to mention, shooting at f/11 allowed me to use a faster shutter speed to avoid any movement due to wind.
I brought both photos into Photoshop CC.
Go to File-Scripts-Load Files Into Stack
Click "Add Open Files" and then click OK
Make sure you Shift click or CMD/CTR click on all the layers in the layers panel at this point so that they're all selected. They should both/all be highlighted in the same gray color. If you skip this step, the "Auto align and Auto Blend" options will be greyed out.
From here, if you've shot on a tripod, you can likely go to "Edit-Auto Blend Layers". If you were handholding, you have to first "Edit-Auto align Layers" and then go to "Edit-Auto Blend Layers"
A dialogue box will pop up. Select "Stack Images" with the settings you see below and click OK.
Depending on how many images you have, their file sizes, and your computer, this could take 30 seconds to...a dang long time!
When complete, you'll have a new document (Untitled) that has the 2 original layers and now a third layer that is blended.
Photoshop has been kind enough to provide you with the separate layers and their corresponding masks. If the software had any trouble, you can target the mask you need and tweak the areas that need help with brushes.
The resulting image should have the sharpest portions of all of the original photos combined. In this case, Photoshop did an amazing job and I was very happy with the results...and it only took about 20 seconds to process it. Yay!
Have fun focus blending!!
Check out my future workshops Here!
Thanks again for all your support! It's an honor to help with your photography education.