Grasshopper

Images taken in a controlled environment or with a posed subject. All subject types.

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lauriek
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Grasshopper

Post by lauriek »

A couple of shots of the same hopper. I've no idea which one this is, I'm no good at all on orthoptera!

Both taken with the OM50/1.8 reversed, the first at minimum extension, the second at 1/2-2/3ish extension.. Stacks were 30 images and 44 images respectively. Aligned with CZP and stacked with TuFuse...

Image

Image

augusthouse
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Post by augusthouse »

Laurie,
I always look forward to your posts and this offering clearly demonstrates why...

You'll have to teach me how to use CZP and TuFuse.

Can't help with the ID but can certainly give you the :smt023

Craig
To use a classic quote from 'Antz' - "I almost know exactly what I'm doing!"

lauriek
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Post by lauriek »

Thanks for the kind words Craig!

What do you use at the moment then, Helicon?

g4lab
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Post by g4lab »

You'll have to teach me how to use CZP and TuFuse.
Could someone post a little tutorial on the how and why of using the two different programs. Or on how to get started for those of us who haven't done so yet.

Gene

augusthouse
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Post by augusthouse »

Hi Laurie,
What do you use at the moment then, Helicon?
I have Helicon Focus v4.47 (Method A & B), CombineZM, CombineZP and TuFuse Pro v0.9.5. Just beginning to find my way 'round the various parameters (and macros) in the programs and considering working with a combination.

There is quite a lot of specific stacking software information scattered throughout various discussions. It would be good if we began to organise that information (with samples) for reference. :-k Also need to keep a note of general pre-stacking post-production and post-stacking post-production.

Craig
To use a classic quote from 'Antz' - "I almost know exactly what I'm doing!"

lauriek
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Post by lauriek »

I'm in the process of documenting my procedures at the moment in some web pages, when it's a little more complete I'll put it online and link it here...

The basics though I can put here. Assuming you've got the mechanism to produce the stack of images in the first place... My current rig is not that good so I need to use alignment in CZP, if your rig is stable and properly aligned then you may be able to avoid that step entirely...

Okay load up CZP. If you are in simple mode, ie the one with the detached toolbar with the big buttons - go into advanced mode by clicking the icon to the left of the question mark on the right hand side... Don't worry we're not going to use much of the advanced functionality but I don't think you can export aligned images from the simple mode menu... Now you should see a normal windows style textual menu...

Click "File" -> "New". A file dialogue will open. Browse to the images you want to stack and multi-select them with shift or control click. Click "Open". Wait a while as it loads the files. (This can take quite a long time if you do humungous stacks of 200 images!). When all are loaded it will show you the top image of the stack.

Click the "Macro" menu then "Align and Balance used frames". Wait for a bit as CZP attempts to align the frames in the stack. When it's done it will show you the top of the stack again.

Finally, click the "File" menu again and then "Export Rectangles". A file dialogue will appear, by default the aligned images will save to a subdirectory called "rectangles" in the directory you loaded the original images from, if this is okay for you just click "Save", this is what I do.. Otherwise browse to the location you want to save the aligned images. By default "rect_" will be appended to each input image name so you can save them to the original dir if you want without overwriting the originals.

Click the top right X on the window to close CZP, tell it no you don't want to save anything... (Or run a Max Contrast Pyramid stack from the macro menu to compare against Tufuse's output!)

Now we have the images aligned. (Hopefully! This doesn't always work in which case you have to resort to other means to do the alignment. I'm still working on this!!!)

Load up Tufuse pro. This is the commercial GUI for Tufuse and can also be downloaded from the Tambaware site... (You can trial this for free but it will put watermarks all over your output, it's cheap and IMO well worth the price. CZP is IMO a lot better than CZM but I reckon Tufuse has the edge in the output quality today) You can use Tufuse for free if you don't mind doing it all on the command line, I just much prefer the GUI!! (Note a new version 0.95 just came out with some new options I haven't really had time to analyse!)

Click the "Add" button. Browse to the files we aligned earlier, shift/control click to select them all and "Open". The files will quickly load into the file list.

Click "Configure Settings". In the new window, make sure "Focus blend" is selected in the top left.

To be honest the other settings in this window really depend on what your images look like in terms of resolution, sharpness and contrast. My settings are as follows, and I process my RAW files into quite soft low contrast TIFFs):

Autobracket. Darken - fully to the left. Brighten - fully to the left.

Fusion Pyramid levels adjustment - fully to the right - +1

Iterations/Weights - is all greyed out.

Focus blend options.
Preservation Strength - 10. (This is the new setting I haven't really had a chance to test out yet so it's still on the default setting).
Perform exposure blending on upper levels - yes. Levels - 3.
If performing NR do so - During blending.

Levels/Histogram I haven't really played with at all, I usually adjust levels after the stacking in Paintshop Pro...

NR I don't usually use, I prefer to do this pre-alignment and/or post stack with Neat Image. If you don't have a decent NR program then it's probably worth trying this out with the default settings. Luminance noise is likely to be your biggest problem so try this one out first... When I do use this I use settings something like 15:80:2.

"Ok" out of the settings. Back in the main window now. I like to run the fuse with the console window open so I can easily see where it's got to, so click "Tools" -> "View Console". Move it to a convenient place onscreen.

Click the big "Fuse Images" button and wait for a while as it does the stack. For some reason when done although I have "Show image when complete" ticked, it does not do this, so browse to the location of your aligned images and you should find a new image in there which is the tufuse output.

My final PP is basically along the lines of - load into Neat Image, analyse, do NR, save. Load into image processing - PSP/PS - Trim off the stacking/aligning borders, Do levels/curves/saturation adjustments to taste. Do an Unsharp mask, as much as you can get away with without showing up that you've used it!

Resize to 800px long side and upload here to show us! (All of this along with the CZP output you hopefully did!)

Sorry this is probably not too readable unless you have the programs in front of you with a stack of images ready to go, but hopefully if you do have that ready then this will produce something half decent!!

g4lab
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Post by g4lab »

Thank you!
:)

augusthouse
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Post by augusthouse »

Thanks for the detailed response Laurie! Appreciated. Always good to have a map handy when you are trying to get somewhere.

Just came across a program call PhotoAcute Studio that might be worth a serious look. It has an impressive toolbox and list of features - feed it slabs.

www.photoacute.com

Craig
To use a classic quote from 'Antz' - "I almost know exactly what I'm doing!"

maxlyons
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Post by maxlyons »

lauriek wrote:Load up Tufuse pro. This is the commercial GUI for Tufuse and can also be downloaded from the Tambaware site...You can use Tufuse for free if you don't mind doing it all on the command line, I just much prefer the GUI!!
I hope you don't mind a little clarification of the relationship between TuFuse and TuFuse Pro. While TuFuse Pro is a GUI for TuFuse, it is more than that...it adds a lot of features that aren't available in TuFuse, and should produce superior quality focus blending results for several reasons:

1. Highlight/shadow preservation is available in TuFuse Pro, but not in TuFuse.

2. Noise reduction (of any sort) is unavailable in TuFuse, but available in TuFuse Pro. TuFuse pro also has a special noise reduction routine specifically optimized for focus blending.

3. Exposure blending of upper pyramid levels is not available in TuFuse, but is available in TuFuse Pro.

So...while TuFuse produces very good results for focus blending, the results from TuFuse Pro should be superior.

Also, (sorry to be pedantic, but I don't want anyone to be confused), the site is tawbaware, not Tambaware!

Max

augusthouse
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Post by augusthouse »

Thanks for the clarification Max and thankyou for TuFuse Pro!

Craig
To use a classic quote from 'Antz' - "I almost know exactly what I'm doing!"

lauriek
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Post by lauriek »

Indeed, thanks for the corrections Max! In my defence on the site name it was about 1am here when I put that post together and I should have been in bed! ;)

augusthouse
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Post by augusthouse »

Laurie,
You mentioned the technique of implementing '"sub stacks" in your post:

http://photomacrography.net/forum/viewtopic.php?t=5327

Could you expand upon this with a brief outline of the proceedure and it's implementation?

Each type of subject and portions within various subjects require different techniques to achieve the best possible outcome; this sometimes involves combining the output of the various stacking software programs currently available and/or sub-stacks of a particular program applied within itself. So a broader definition of 'sub stacks' is important for those of us following on behind.

When working with a subject/focus stack it's always good to have a knowledge of the various solutions that could be considered for application.

Any other techniques that you have found to be of benefit would be greatly appreciated by all, especially those like myself who have not as yet emerged through the 'stratosphere'.

Many abilities will become somewhat intuitive, so now would be a good time to make note of the techniques that you have found to be of most benefit and those most often implemented.

I'll take the information provided in this thread as a starting point and open a new thread titled 'Focus Stacking Software Techniques' in which all experienced stackers can have input.

Hope this sounds constructive.

Craig
To use a classic quote from 'Antz' - "I almost know exactly what I'm doing!"

lauriek
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Post by lauriek »

This is indeed a good idea to document everything at this stage, as you say a lot of this stuff just seems obvious now (yeah now I've made all the mistakes you can think of several times, plus some you couldn't think of plus some you wouldn't think you could make!) ;)

A sub stack at it's most basic is used to avoid problems with bits of the subject showing through bits which should be in front of it - antennae being the obvious culprits. If you save the two images in the thread you linked and compare them side by side, look at the area where particularly the left antenna crosses the top of the ant's head. In the first stack which was just a straight stack of all the images I shot, this area shows the ant's head through the antenna. In the second shot I used a sub stack to fix this. This is a common problem in stacking software - in the case where it finds two bits of detail in the same place at different depths in the stack - it does not know which bit of detail should be in front.

I should point out at the start, to do the merging the sub-stacks must line up exactly with the full stack, so don't trim off any alignment borders from the full stack until we've done the merging of any sub-stacks! In fact don't do any post stack processing on the main stack yet!!

Okay so I worked out that the antenna needed clearing up, so I carefully looked through the input images and found just those images which contained the antenna parts in focus. This was a relatively small set of images in this case, 13 images for the left antenna. So load up Tufuse Pro, browse to the directory with the input images, choose just the range to sub-stack. Setup everything else exactly as it was for the main stack. Fuse. Wait a little while, obviously a lot less time than the full stack!

Now we have two images, which should be exactly aligned. One has the whole subject in focus but some issues with 'show-through'. The other has a fix for one of those areas of show through.

Load up both images into your image processing software, I tend to use Paint shop pro for most of my PP work so I load them into that. In that program, and many others work this way you can use 'control'+'tab' to switch between open files, (much like alt-tab to switch between open applications in windows...). So I select the clone tool, at an appropriate size with a nice soft edge, go to the picture with just the antenna. Position the mouse cursor in the middle of the antenna and then lift the mouse up so it cannot move the pointer. Right click to select clone source. Control-tab to the full stack. Left click to clone in a spot from the other image. Now you can zoom in and just paint over the antenna and where it should be and the good antenna from the sub-stack will be cloned in over the top of the semi-transparent one.

Sub stacks seem to work their best if they are small stacks with large well defined details. Sometimes with small details like crossing over hairs it can be a real pain to do the cloning and not go outside the tiny area you are trying to clone. I really must work out some other method to do the cloning in that case, perhaps using the sub-stack image as a semi-transparent layer, cloning, then removing the layer, or something like that!

To check the images are perfectly aligned before you start cloning you can use this technique in PSP. Load both images into your PSP. Place the cursor somewhere in the middle of the picture. Lift the mouse, roll the mousewheel up a couple of notches to zoom into the image. Control-tab to the other image, without putting the mouse back down. Roll the mousewheel up the same number of notches you did for the other image. Now you can put the mouse back down again. Control tab back and forth between the two images, once zoomed in it should be obvious if they line up exactly or not. If they do not then you need to use a slightly different technique to do the cloning, basically pick a point on the antenna which is obvious on both images - zoom in to the same point on both to be able to find something. Clone from that point on the antenna only shot to as close to the same spot as you can on the other shot. If you are a pixel or two out it probably won't show up!!

I use PSP mostly as I've been using it for years, I'm used to the way it works. Although I have PS and I know it's more capable and powerful I find it more difficult to do the basic stuff than I do in PSP... I suspect these techniques will work in PS but you might need to vary them slightly, for instance I'm not sure if mouse wheel zooms by default in PS..

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