I have been fascinated by Macro ever since I started digital photography, partly because it takes you to places you wouldn’t normally go and shows you things that you wouldn’t normally see. After my first successful attempts at Macro Photography, I spent a great deal of time reading a lot about it and experimenting with different set-ups, in order to see how close I can get using the equipment available on the market and keeping the post-processing relatively simple. During that quest the word that was constantly coming up is ‘focus stacking’ and, as most Macro photographers would agree, in order to achieve very good results you will need to learn how to stack exposures at some point of your Macro exploration. This post will describe different kinds of Macro set-ups I have personally tested and discuss both their pros and cons. Finally, I will describe a set-up I’m currently using, which produces images you can see below.
One of the greatest challenges in Macro photography is getting the right DOF (depth of field). Generally, the closer to your object you get, the shallower the DOF becomes. Smaller apertures will let you gain more DOF, but will also block more light, taking into consideration the fact that most handheld macro work is already done with fast shutter to reduce camera shake. If you want to achieve ultra sharp images, with a reasonable aperture, then focus stacking is ideal to achieve that. There’s a lot of equally good software available for focus stacking on the market, but I have decided to demonstrate how Photoshop CS5 copes with it.
It’s been over 6 months since I bought my first macro lens, therefore, I decided to write about my experience with macro photography and share some insights for all of you photographers out there thinking of taking some macro shots in the nearest future.