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Interiors: Depth of field and focus stacking

From: Insights on Architectural Photography

Video: Interiors: Depth of field and focus stacking

So most photographers know that one of the challenges in photographing a scene where some objects are very close to the camera. And some are very far away, is keeping everything in the frame in focus. How do you deal with that? Well you really have two option, because when you're shooting an interior, you really can't use a tilt or a swing mute camera. Because you have both the floor and the ceiling to keep sharp. So you can't, emphasize one at the detriment of the other, so a tilt shift lens doesn't really help you carry depth of field, right? So you can either stop the lens down, or you can focus stack.

Interiors: Depth of field and focus stacking

So most photographers know that one of the challenges in photographing a scene where some objects are very close to the camera. And some are very far away, is keeping everything in the frame in focus. How do you deal with that? Well you really have two option, because when you're shooting an interior, you really can't use a tilt or a swing mute camera. Because you have both the floor and the ceiling to keep sharp. So you can't, emphasize one at the detriment of the other, so a tilt shift lens doesn't really help you carry depth of field, right? So you can either stop the lens down, or you can focus stack.

And when you stop the lens down, there becomes a certain point, and depending on your format for DSLR, 35 mm DSLRs. It's usually going to be around F8, but you can test this. Diffraction will begin to soften the overall image. And what diffraction is is that there's image forming light coming through the lens. And when that light strikes the blade of the aperture, it scatters just a little bit right on the edge of the blade of the aperture. At a wide aperture, that's a very small percentage of the image forming light.

But as you stop down, the scatter remains the same, but it becomes a larger percentage of the image forming light. And after a particular amount that you stop down, it begins to soften the image overall. So on a DSLR, it's usually around F8, and you can test it. You can just go out and shoot the exact same object, a brick wall is a great idea, cause it shows sharpness, and just stop your lens down. And you'll notice that after a certain point, the image overall gets softer.

Now, you are increasing your acceptable depth to field as you stop down. But the overall image is going to soften. >> So everything is more in focus, but simultaneously less sharp. >> Right, right. Exactly, exactly. Medium format is usually around F11, 4 by 5 view camera was F22. Sometimes we could get to 32 before it happened, but beyond 32 the overall image was softened. So the larger the format, the smaller the aperture. And you know, at the same time, it's interesting in, that the larger the format, the greater the magnification.

Which gave you less depth of field, so you had to stop down further to get the same apparent depth of field as the smaller format at a wider aperture. So F8, on a thirty-five, was F22 on a four by five. Basically for the same amount of depth to field. So you've got that at play. So what I normally do, is focus stack. And that is where I focus on the foreground I shoot with a medium format and I'll set my aperture at F11. (COUGH), Excuse me, because that's the sharpest aperture for that particular format.

And then I'll focus on the foreground, the extreme foreground, do a capture, step in just a little, do another capture, and just slowly work my way through it. And then the software later looks for the pixels with the highest contrast, because those are the sharpest. An it combines one image automatically out of all of the high contrast pixels. So then you have sharpness front to back. And that assumes that that's what we want. There are many times in an image where we don't want the background sharp, because we're really trying to do something else with the image than, really see the whole space.

Some spaces, require sharpness front to back. Other spaces work really well or other shots I should say, would work really well detail shots for instance using a selective focus. Where we soften the background purposefully, just by using a wider aperture work really well. So I keep all that in mind when I decide which aperture to shoot with. And then, whether I'm going to focus stack it or not, or whether I really want to use selective focus.

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Insights on Architectural Photography

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