MYN – Focus Stacking using Adobe Photoshop

The following tutorial provides step-by-step instructions that can be used to create focus-stacked composite images with Adobe Photoshop (Ps).

First, download (from Google Drive) the two 16-bit TIFF files that will be focus-stacked. One photo is focused on the thorax, near the left eye; the other photo is focused on abdominal segment eight (S8).

Save the files to a folder on the desktop of your computer.

Open Photoshop.

  1. File / Scripts / Load Files into Stack… [Navigate to the folder on your desktop and select both files. By default, Ps creates a new document called “Untitled1.”]
  2. Select all layers. [Click on filenames, not icons.]
  3. Edit / Auto-Align Layers; Auto <OK>
  4. Edit / Auto-Blend Layers; Stack Images, Seamless Tones and Colors <OK>
  5. Duplicate layers to a new document. Layer / Duplicate Layers… / Document: New / Name: Backup-copy]
  6. Select “Untitled1”: Layer / Merge Layers (Ps merges all layers into one TIFF, named after the first file in sequence.)
  7. Straighten and Crop as necessary.
  8. Duplicate layer; append name with “Spot Healing.” [Remove dust spots, etc. from image using either Spot Healing Brush (Content-Aware) or Edit/Fill (Content Aware).
  9. “Sharpen” image. Duplicate top layer; append name with “HPF.” [Select top layer: Filter / Other / High Pass…; adjust until you can just see outline of image <OK>; change Normal to Overlay. 1.5 is a good starting point; decrease/increase as necessary. DO NOT OVERSHARPEN!
  10. File / Save As… TIFF; JPG.
  11. Select “Backup-copy.” File / Save As… Photoshop.

The composite image that you created should look like this, not including the copyright information shown in the lower-left corner of my image.

Take-aways

A two-photo focus stack works in part because the photos were shot using an aperture of f/16. Usually more than two “layers” are required to create a satisfactory focus-stacked composite image.

The same workflow can be used to create focus stacks using more layers with one caveat: more layers take more time for Photoshop to process.

Related Resources

Copyright © 2020 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

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