There are many different ways of processing photos in the development phase in order to improve them without having to resort to drastic measures. Some of the most common methods include removing the “red eye” from portraits or softening a harsh light source. HDR or high dynamic range is another method that is becoming more and more commonly seen in photos. However, there are many ways to handle photos in processing to achieve interesting effects. One of those methods is called photo stacking.
Photo stacking is a trick used most frequently with macro lenses in order to achieve a balanced depth-of-field. In order to make this work, the photographer needs several photos of the same subject but with the focus of each photo on slightly different points. To make that work, the photographer will often use a tripod since stability is absolutely crucial to laying the photos together in an editor in later steps. Once the photographer has gotten all of the images he needs, he can then proceed to the next step: editing the images into a single photo.
Using a computer, the photographer can open all of the photos into a single file, layering them and adjusting the layer settings as needed. Programs like Photoshop have an auto-align tool that can help a photographer get the layers lined up correctly so that there are no gaps or jumps between them despite each layer having a different focal point. Photoshop can also process the layers into a stack which will allow the photographer to paint back or forward a specific layer in case the auto-alignment was less than perfect. Once the stacking and the layers are arranged in a pleasing manner, the photographer can then continue to edit and process the photo as needed.
Photos that make use of stacking are often quite beautiful to look at. In some cases, the photo looks almost unreal in its beauty and detail. Below are a few images that make use of this technique to great effect. If you decide to give this trick a try, please share the results with us over on our Facebook page!
— da Bird