Shooting Challenge: Focus Stacking

Illustration for article titled Shooting Challenge: Focus Stacking

Depth of field is a key principle to photography, a combination of factors and physics that determine how much any given photo is in focus. For this week's Shooting Challenge, I want to to break the laws of DoF.


The Challenge

Last week, you combined multiple photos to extend dynamic range. This week, you'll combine photos to extend depth of field—putting more of your shot in focus than would otherwise be possible.

The Method

Focus stacking is primarily used in macro photography (meaning macro lenses are the ideal for candidate for this technique this, but by no means necessary—as many have pointed out, landscape photographers use it as well). You'll take multiple shots of a subject, only shifting your point of focus. These shots are combined in post production. Here's a great tutorial by Brian Valentine, the photographer behind that lead shot. If you prefer video, then check out this clip:

The Rules

1. Submissions need to be your own.
2. Photos need to be taken the week of the contest. (No portfolio linking or it spoils the "challenge" part.)
3. Explain, briefly, the equipment, settings and technique used to snag the shot.
4. Email submissions to
5. Include 800px wide image (200KB or less) AND a 2560x1600 sized in email. (The 800px image is the one judged, so feel free to crop/alter the larger image for wallpaper-sized dimensions.)

Send your best entries by Sunday, May 2nd at 11PM Eastern to with "Focus Stacking" in the subject line. Save your files as JPGs, and use a FirstnameLastnameFOCUS.jpg (800px) and FirstnameLastnameFOCUSWALLPAPER.jpg (2560px) naming conventions. Include your shooting summary (camera, lens, ISO, etc) in the body of the email along with a story of the shot in a few sentences.

[Lead image by Brian Valentine]

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I don't get this. Well, I understand what it does and how you do it, but I don't see the underlying beauty in this. The watch simply looks boring when it's crystal clear, kind of like a digitally zoomed-in picture.