Photoshop: Focus Bracketing


Photoshop for Photographers: The Essentials


Lesson Info

Photoshop: Focus Bracketing

imagine you need to take a photograph but regardless of the aperture setting you said on your camera you can't get everything and focus for some reason something's always out of focus usually the more you work with small objects can you try to magnify them the less and less step the field you end up getting and that's why I often times if you see a picture of a city that has very limited depth of field it can look like a model and it's because your brain is used to only seen a limited depth of field when you're magnifying something a lot like a train set or something usually have a very limited depth of field but we can cheat we can take more than one photograph where if I focus on a faraway object and capture it then focus on the midway distance object and then focus on a close object and get three photos where each one has a different range of depth of field in it I could combine them together to use all those sharp areas and create one image so here is to examples one that will have...

a bit of a mess up in it and the other that I think we look fine so here I'm shooting some iguanas on the galapagos islands and I get one in focus but I got another one in front here that's out of focus so I just changed my focus point end up getting the other guy so what I'm gonna do is take these two images and select them enbridge have the first image already selected ah hold shift and click on the other one I need to get these into a document where there you show up this separate layers to do that I'll go to the tools menu I'll choose photo shop and I'll find a choice called load files into photoshopped layers now if you happen to use light room you could also select the images there and I believe you go to the photo menu at the top of your screen will be a choice called edit in and a little side manual pier one of the choices should be I think it's labeled exactly the same load files into photoshopped layers so that's the photo menu than edit in in with this I'll get a brand new document and I'll end up with one layer for each of the images that I've selected so if I had ten images I'd have ten layers now you need to make sure these layers air lined up so that if the camera was moving when you're shooting because here I was shooting hand held and it wasn't on a tripod uh and so I need to get line these up let's look at a few ideas when it comes to lining them up in the layers panel I have a few choice is the first thing I could do is with the top layer active I had click up here where it says normal and I can change it to a choice called difference difference is going to show me where the layer I'm working on is different than what's underneath and what's gonna happen is wherever this later is identical tonner what's underneath it will display black wherever this layer is different than what's underneath you'll see various shades of grey in them or those shades of gray deviate from being black the less it matches what's underneath so it's kind of a weird thing but you get this look then I can use the move tool and photo shop which allows me to reposition a layer and I want to move this around until it gets his dark is I can possibly get it you see how it's getting darker as I move over this way if I moved this way gets pretty bright yeah it's never going to turn perfectly black because the layers are not identical now I could try to use a command and photo shop it's called otto align layers and sometimes that works but when you have this big of a difference visually between the layers it's usually not gonna be ableto handle it because that's completely out of focus underneath and the one on top is sharp it doesn't think they look similar enough but with this technique we could move it around and try to find the position where it gets his dark as we can get it and that means it's this similar to what's underneath as we can get it then I can set the menu change it from difference back to normal and if I want to see if I did an okay job all I would do is turn off the eyeball for the top layer to hide it and reveal what's underneath and I could just kind of stare at one of the iguanas and see if it's lined up what's underneath I got pretty close tonight if you don't like that techniques it feels kind of weird thinking about the black and the turned in various shades you could instead at the top of your layers panel lower the opacity setting so you can partially see through this layer to what's underneath and then I could just get a little hint for what's underneath and used that when you're repositioning it when you're done just bring the opacity back to one hundred but once you've gotten the two layers to be close to a lining and if you're on a tripod you won't need to do that is there already a line the next thing we need to do is get both of the layers selected because it needs to know which layers you want to work with when you're trying to combine them together it doesn't know maybe you're working on a much more complex document where this is only one little element in the corner of it so I'm going to click on one of those layers to make it active I'll hold down the shift key and click on the other layer to get both of them and then I'll go to the edit menu and there's a choice called auto blend layers auto blend lairs in the edit menu this comes up and I just used defaults at ease now when I click okay what photo shop is going to do is it's going to compare these layers and it's going to look for the layer that has the most contrast and it will use whichever layer has the most contrast but it doesn't do it looking at the entire image it looks at small little areas at a time comparing the two layers looking for the one with the most contrast well just look at the out of focus iguana in the back look at how big of a difference there is between the bright area and the dark area compared to one that is in folks this isn't the one that is in focus have a greater difference between bright and dark that's what contrast is in any time you have something that's sharp in focus it's going to have more contrast than something that's out of focus and so that's what it's doing is it's going to search throughout the image divided up into tiny little areas compare the two layers and say I'm going to use whichever these two has more contrast and here goes when I click okay we're going to run into an issue in this one and that is when I shot the two iguanas on both of the shots I never had the area that was in between the two sharp so here it goes from infocus toe out of focus and back in focus you know that doesn't look too natural right and so usually want to air on the side of too many shots instead of just a couple you wantto change the focus a little bit take another shot take his focus a little bit so it really make sure you have that full range that's in there but I wanted to use this so you really see what happens when that's not the case now sometimes after you do this you'll notice weird things whereto look like little worms are almost in your image I'll show you one of them it's near the lower right of this image off to zoom up on my screen though do you see this weird looking thing going out throughout my image that's not actually in the picture if I were to combine the layers together or zoom up to one hundred percent view where I can see the actual detail in the image that would disappear this is an artifact of trying to display the picture where it fits within your window and it's doing that separately for the two layers scaling it down so it fits within the window and then showing the two together and when it does that there's just a little inaccuracy and how it does it is trying to do it fast so if you ever see those don't worry about him all you need to do is go to the layer menu and she's flatten image so combined so slayers together and those little area should suddenly disappear so if you look here I'll choose on do before see the weird after either that or zoom up to hundred percent view then even if you have the layers you're actually seen the true content of the image without having some very quick scaling being applied and you would also not notice those so I'll do one other example I'm gonna grab two shots here I have a sign in the distance in here I have a broken window I'm shooting through I couldn't get both in focus because I'm shooting hand held and I need a fast shutter speed in order to be handheld so if I shot it like f twenty two it would be too slow shutter speed I'd have to up my eyes so setting a lot of other things I just decided to take a few shots so I practiced I focused on the thing in the distance and then I focused on the thing near framed my shot and I just started with one click and then slid over to the other which I already knew where the focus point was and shot it I'll take those two images coming here choose photo shop load files in the photo shop players I'm just doing the identical thing we did before and in this case I'm not even gonna line them up because I don't think I moved that much select both layers you know zoom up so you can see when it's done and edit auto blend layers default settings okay see how we got both before after just remember if you have object specially if you have to magnify an object you start getting less and less step the field as you start magnifying something mohr and mme or just the way the optics work and so the more you need to magnify things that means longer lenses like telephoto lenses that's magnifying things make it look like you're closer to you you're gonna end up with less and less step the field and that's when you might consider taking multiple shots stacking them and using the feature I mentioned yeah you gonna optimize your images in bridge or came around before you yes with all the things that a news here if you ever see me combined more than one if in fact if you ever see me open an image in photo shop assume I've already been in camera yeah so some people calm out either focus stacking or focus bracketing and uh it's nice that we can do it within photo shop now let's move on and let's talk about how to make what you're capturing look more like what your eye would usually see here are a siri's of images where there is a wide brightness range here I am inside a building looking out towards a temple in the distance in southeast asia and if you look at it I can see detail in most of the dark part of the image with the exception of one area and I can see things in the dark area here in the bright areas same thing here this is ah extreme brightness ranch it's very dark in this little building that I'm in here's another one this is a slot canyon very little light makes it to the bottom of a slot canyon so the difference and brightness between the bottom of the slide canyon in the really bright blue sky is amazingly huge and here's another one this when we worked on the other day I think but this one was processed differently and I think it has more of a natural look to it than what we ended up with thie other day but how can I end up getting something it looks a bit more like what my eyes would see because let me show you what your camera would have captured in some of these situations so here's what my eye in general sees but I point my camera at the same scene press the shutter and it gives me that in that's nothing like what I saw I had no problem seeing the shattered detail but what if instead of just taking one shot I take more than one and I make it so this shot I get where I just make sure that I get the detail in the brightest part of the picture usually what that means is on my camera if anything goes to solid white it blinks on the screen it's a setting on your camera I call the blink ese but it's usually called the highlight warning or something like that you can turn on and I make sure nothing is blinking on the screen unless it's so bright that would hurt my eyes to look at it the noonday sun I'm not going to get detail in you know or the noonday sun reflecting off the highlights in water or a windshield or something those areas might still be white but anything it wouldn't harm my eyes to look directly into I want detail it then after I captured that image I decided take another one I make this two stops brighter so on your camera you have the gauge where it has numbers negative too negative one zero and then plus one plus two the difference between the shots two stops and I take another shot this shot the highlights are starting to lose the detail but all we're trying to do is start to capture some shadow detail then I take another shot too stops brighter and this is where I'm really starting to get that shadow detail I don't care about the highlights because I already captured him in the first shot with this image let's see what my camera would have captured that's the first shot it would have taken I just make sure I have detail in the highlights nothing blinking unless it would hurt my eyes to look directly at it then to stop strider another shot to stop brighter another shot I keep the aperture setting consistent so that the depth of field is consistent it's only the shutter speed that's changing usually I use a setting on my camera called auto bracketing where all I have to do is press and hold the shutter and it automatically takes three shots this here is a much maur extreme brightness range than the others I'm going to take many more pictures when that's the case if I have a massively extreme brightness range I'm going to do on ly one stop between the exposures and what I'm going to do is my first exposure I'm just going to just like the others make sure I have highlight detail I mean the sky's not blinking on my camera it's not white there's detail there that I can easily see so I just my camera take a picture note that too bright adjust my camera seymour take another picture until I figure out the setting that gives me the highlight detail then after that I take another picture that's one stop brighter I take another one that's one stop writer take another one that's one stop brighter and I keep doing that until it's easy to see what's in the dark part of the picture however many shots it takes so and here it's still a little bit hard to see what's over here a little bit hard to see what's over here a little bit hard to see down there right if I want any of that detail keep going now it's easy to see the detail and the darkest part of the picture isn't it so that's enough shots does that make sense the darkest shot the only thing we care about is the highlights the bright part of the picture we want to make sure that it's not white instead we can see the detail then we go brighter and brighter brighter until it's easy to see the dark part of the picture you don't always get that number of shots sometimes the darker the darkest shot might look like this one he'll still be okay it's just less than ideal and sometimes I want to go for absolute ideal I even went brighter because I want how much does it cost to take an extra picture but you never know if you need or not that when I probably didn't need that would be bright enough all right so we captured these images making it so we're only changing the shutter speed usually using auto bracketing most of the time I could get away with just three shots two stops a part that's like the generic setting that works ninety percent of the time and then it's only in the really extreme cases and when it's absolutely critical to nail it that I might do one stop between exposures that can give you a slightly smoother and result and I might end up with however many shots it takes that's in the more extreme case but I would say literally ninety percent of the time it's three shots two stops apart so now let's learn how to combine these together and end up with a natural looking and result so what I'm going to do here is click on the first exposure that I captured I'll hold down the shift key and get the last exposure of one particular composition I'm going to go in here and first I'm gonna go to camera so if I go up to the file menu and choose opening camera wrong come in here and I might click through these just find the one where it's easy to see the some of the detail doesn't really matter so much but if one is almost all black and only has a tiny areas I'd like to see one that you can see some of the detail and then before I adjust anything over on the right side I'm going to hit the select all buttons so any changes I make affect all the images now when you do hdr there are certain things that get exaggerated and that arm or difficult to fix afterwards one of those things is if you come over here to the lens tab remember the one that's supposed to look like the individual class elements and a lens there's that check box under the color subcabinet called remove chromatic aberration and I don't know if you remember that from yesterday but it was like a tiny little hint of color on the edge of things that shouldn't have been there well those things get exaggerated when you do hdr so I want to turn that on to try to remove them before we merge these images together the other thing that I want to do is I'm going to come in and go to the detailed tab the detail tab was the one with two triangles if my brightest image doesn't really show all the shattered detail that I want like I just took three shots and that brightest image she could have been even brighter then I want to do noise reduction because if I'm going to try to push it further even brighter than that brightest exposure wass then I'm going to start seeing noise show up and so I'm going to bring up noise reduction this slider here a little bit if on the other hand my brightest shot I could easily see the shadow detail like on the slot canyon example it was blatantly easy to see the shadow detail there's no need to move this up it's on ly if your brightest shot could have been brighter then do you mind if I ask a quick actions that's slightly off topic could you back to the lens correction please sure it seems to me an other versions of the camera it would actually choose your lens that's under this area called profile okay profile and if I turn this on it would look up my lens itjust doesn't automatically yeah I must have missed that time when I was looking thank you s o we're under the color tab here eso anyway we're under detail here the other thing that I might do is remember before when we talk a little bit about noise is we don't want to sharpen the areas that don't have useful detail remember that where we had I think a picture of a monk with a big temple behind him and his face was full of noise and we decided let's not have it sharpen that on the way we did it was with masking so you hold on the option key ultima windows click on the masking slider and bring it up until something like your sky turns black anything it didn't have useful detail and just to make sure we're not overly sharpening things that don't have great detail but a setting up here around fifteen from asking be fine then finally I'm gonna go to the basic tab and I want to adjust white balance just to make sure that the white balances in general consistent across those images because your cameras usually set to auto white balance and it might very between the shots so I would just adjust that it's a little more difficult to find tune it afterwards let's make sure it's not overly even if you think it looked good to begin with move the slider the little list bit because it simply makes it consistent then I'm gonna click done and just so you know the settings I just applied or somewhat optional but they will increase your equality now let's actually do the process emerge in this thing together and making it look good to do that I'll go to the tools menu I'll choose photo shop and there's a choice called merge to hdr pro he and just like with other things you could also do this in light room in light room you go to the photo menu choose edit in and you'll find a choice very similar to merge to hdr pro which will do the exact same thing is this when I choose merge to hdr pro is going to send those images over the photo shop and you'll see the layers start to stack up but you're not going to end up with layers in the end it's going to merge them together into a single image and it's going to present me with a dialog box where it thinks I should optimize the image so we got to just wait for that to happen and I find that the settings that are found in the dialogue box it sends me to are not very good I find that you can't get a natural looking image without really spending a lot of time in there and even that you might not be able to get a natural looking image so show your alternative to the dialog box it first presents you with here's this first in the lower left it shows you the exposure's you're merging together and if you ever saw any weird artifacts within the picture you could turn off individual check boxes below each one of your shots to see what would it look like if we didn't use one of these this would re calculate to give you a new preview and you could decide maybe not to use one where a tree was getting blown in the wind or something like that there's a check box in the upper right called removed ghosts kind of sounds funny but what that means is if there is any movement in your scene if somebody's walking through the scene if the trees or by getting blown in the wind or if there's water that's moving then it's going to create little ghosted image is where he uses part of one exposure and part of another and if you turn that on it will instead try to eliminate any doubled up images like where a person shows up twice when we're walking through the scene but in this particular case I don't think there's an emotion in the scene so I'm not going to turn that on but if there was if there is a flag flapping in the wind or something like that I click on that check box then there's little pop up menu near the upper right where you can choose the mode and if you set this to one of the bottom two choices it thinks you want to do the processing right here in this dialog box the only time I set it to one of these two choices is if I want to check to see if I have issues with ghosting there's somebody walking through the scene or something uh then this is going to give me a more realistic preview then the one called thirty two bit where the image hasn't really been processed yet so doesn't quite look good it's when you choose one of these two where thinks you're doing the processing right here and you get more of ah an end result kind of preview so if I had somebody walking through my scene I'd turn on remove ghosts and what happens when you do is watch in the lower left you see the three exposures that air shone down there's thumbnails when I turn on removed ghosts one of those three exposures will have a green box around it that's what it considers to be the master image the image that is comparing the others too and it's trying to maintain the position of the objects that are in that shot so if you had a flag flapping in the wind is trying to maintain the look of the flag from that shot and you could click on the next image over it will re calculate trying to maintain the position from that shot and so what I would do is I'd turn on remove ghost and I clicked between the three shots and see which one makes the picture look the best because who knows who the flags flapping in the wind or water is moving in a stream or something it's hard to predict which one would look best so I'd click through the three intel the picture look the best in this particular case there's no movement in the scene so I don't need to have removed ghost turned on it just would do extra processing and could actually degrade the look a little bit now I find that the slider suffering here it's hard to get a really photographic realistic looking and result and so I like to process it in a different way and if you want to process it with something other than these sliders what you need to do is change this menu to thirty two bit thirty two bit means just combined merge those images together but don't apply the processing that actually optimizes the image yet we're going to apply that somewhere else and so if you look at the picture looks pretty bad now depends on what version of photoshopped as faras what you're going to do next if you have the newest version of photoshopped photoshopped cc it's really easy there's this a check box right here in fact I think it's even turned on by default called complete tony an adobe camera and if you have that turned on all you do is click the button in the lower right of this dialog box the one it's blue it's called tone and a cr and it would send you automatically over to where you need to optimize it very easy just set this menu to thirty two bit and click the button and lower right if on the other hand you have an older version of photo shop if you have I think photo shop cia six you have to do extra steps what you would have to do is this wouldn't be there and so in order to get it to work you click the ok button and then save this image is it tiff if you save this image is a tiff file you could open it in camera go to wherever you saved it with enbridge click on the image and adjusted using camera just like we adjusted any raw file you've ever seen me dio but with photoshopped cc all I need to do is turn on this little check box then when I click it's gonna automatically do some work behind the scenes and it's gonna automatically create a temporary file on my hard drive that's a tiff file it's going to automatically send that file into camera off for me so I've do less work it's only if I have c s six but I have to do the extra steps so now it's going to send me into camera and you process is like any other raw file you've ever worked with meaning all the techniques we talked about on the first day would apply but the difference is this image has such a wide brightness range that you're going to be able to get so much more detail out of the highlights and the shadows that it won't feel like a normal raw file it'll feel like just a crazy file so in this case let's bring out shattered detail with the shadow slider remember when we were in camera there was a trick if you ever max out the highlights with shadow slaughter and it was going up here to exposure and moving in the same direction look at how much shattered detail will he get out of that thing but now the highlights or two bright aren't they so let's bring the highlights down then we could find to knit we could try see what happens with contrast bring it up or down kind of like it a little higher and maybe bring out a little bit of thea exaggerate the detail with a clarity and make it a little bit more colorful with vibrance but I'm processing it just like I would any raw file this is just a special file calling hdr image which has a amazing brightness range in it s oh it's kind of weird that also that aiken move the highlights this far in the shadows as far also when I move the shadows this far there is no noise in the dark part of the image unless the brightest shot that you captured was not quite bright enough and you're trying to pull more than what you actually captured out of it but if your brightest shot was actually bright enough where you could easily see the shadow detail there's no noise in there and so it's going toe look great that question yeah I was just curious about the emerged to hdr pro is is that a plug dinners that built into its built in a photo shop it comes with photo show okay I'm used to plug ins where I would go toe like a nick yeah there's two alternatives but I actually find I really like this which is built tanks I find it give me a very photographic looking and result and if for some reason you do ah lot of hdr like real estate you do a lot of hdr because you want to see outside the windows as well as inside and stuff there are two other programs that I would give it try one is from nick's software which is actually now owned by google and it's called hdr effects pro it's not a bad thing to try there's another one from a company called photo from hdr soft hdr soft dot com that's called photo matics photo max will give you the most sliders but it takes a lot of time to get used to those sliders and if you're going to do a lot of hdr I'd look into those two programs as well so any time I don't like what photoshopped gives me or I want a different look I would go to those but I find what's built in the photo shop that's what produced these and results and I think they look pretty darn good whereas the old stuff that used to be built into photo shop I think it was pre c s sick x was crap in general it was so bad that there was a cottage industry of plug in makers that created hdr software and for me I find they're less necessary unless I do hdr every day dozens of images then I want to get those mohr especially plug ins for the times when I don't like what I get here when you shot the pictures did you use a phil flash or no flash at all no flash it on natural light if you're going to use flash make sure you use the same a lot of flash the exact same amount for all the things because you want the lighting to be consistent so these are all natural life about some internet love yeah questions sure so rosemary would like to know was the image you're working on shot on a tripod or hand held if handheld how did he how did you get the exact same shot three times with no variants uh they these were shot I believe on a tripod I think all of these shots with the exception on you don't see the individual pictures of this one I find that if it's broad daylight I can shoot handheld you just need to instead of holding your camera lightly you need to get your elbows into your body in and really hold your camera steady or do a little trick that joe mcnally taught me which has set your camera on your shoulder and shoot with your opposite I because it gives you a nice solid base uh but if it's broad daylight then I can usually do it hand held if on the other hand I'm in a building and it's dark and the building I'm looking outside to something bright I need a tripod so all except for I believe this one were shot with a tripod and for the handheld stuff would you use a line layers potentially it's automatically doing that for you when you come up here and choose tools photoshopped merge to hdr problem awesome and then I know we have ah in studio but one mohr from lee asking recommended stop difference between hdr shots generically two stops between the shots in most of the time just taking three pictures with two stops in between will work the majority of the time but if you're doing it for a commercial job and you absolutely need to nail it then you going one stop between the shots has the possibility of producing a smoother end result but you would rarely notice the difference but if I'm being hired to do it I'm doing one stop between them and I'm going to do more shots than I need until the shadows are so bright it's ridiculous it might be five shots might be twelve shots depends on the scene right darkest shot I need to have highlight detail and then keep going until it's easy to see what's in the shadows and it depends on the scene sometimes that's three shots but in the case of a slot canyon it's a lot more than that thank you michael so two questions first is when you're doing the more than three shots do you can't do that bracketed or can you use the three bracket and they just go like plus three plus for it depends on your camera is faras if you could do auto bracketing they're not some cameras limit you two three shots when you turn on auto bracketing look if you have a cannon five demark too when you turn on bracketing it's always three shots but if you go to a five day mark three I could do five shots seven shots you know they added the feature usually the more expensive the camera they want you to buy the can and they wanted you to buy the one siri's camera that costs a lot in the past in order to get that feature but what I can do is cheat especially finding a tripod you have exposure compensation usually the big dial in the back it moves all three of the little tick marks that are on your your scale of exposures and just figure out what setting you need to get detail in your highlights click click click take three shots then take the exposure compensation dial and dalit really far to the right which is going to move those three dots way over to the right and take another set of three click click click you're gonna end up with six shots that air dramatically different in brightness where the second set of three are much brighter and you could sometimes cheat that way but you have to be on a tripod because you can't do that handheld and started interrupt on and uh we also have a question have you ever used the automatic hdr in the five d mark three ben and I have tried it out a little bit but I find out I'll have the control I pretty much just get what it gives me and so if I needed to do a huge number of images and I'm not getting paid much then I might consider using that but if I want the most equality then I'm going to definitely instead do it this way great thank you alright question is have you ever used the light room plug in lr infuse its donate where uh no I don't believe I've used that particular one just say you're where there is you can process these images in light room if you use theme urge to hdr pro in safe is a tiff save that tiff back in the light room you khun do the actual processing within light room does a great job and there is a plug in made by the same people that make photo matics meaning you goto hdr soft dot com to get it that's less expensive than the main plug in which is called photo matics and what it's designed to do is just do the merging part uh so that from light room you can select the exposures access this plug in it would merge it automatically and pop it back into light room I wouldn't even need to run photo shop and then you could just process it there and it's just a nice convenient in fast work flow it just makes it a little bit more streamlined

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Software Used: Adobe Photoshop CC 14.2