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A few newbie questions on something im trying to capture

 
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p_m00res



Joined: 19 Mar 2016
Posts: 16

PostPosted: Sun Mar 20, 2016 5:52 pm    Post subject: A few newbie questions on something im trying to capture Reply with quote

Got some questions on a my first macro attempts.

I do not yet have a focusing rail so have been playing with focusing the lens manually for practice. Should have a quality one by summer.

The area above the '1' looks cloudy from the blurred out of focus portions of droplets. It appears to be added during the combining process. Is there anyway to process that out?

The Helicon Focus demo seems to cause the least ghosting.

Big one (3), the glare facing south in a window with full sun, I think if I could limit that glare it would bring out the droplets. Is this something a polarizer filter remove? I want some sparkling but not so much it overwhelms the details.

Any other things that might help me (other then a focusing rail).

I know spider mite infestations where those Parsley fronds are about 3mm across covered in fine webbing and evaporating tiny water droplets are not the simplest subject to photograph.

You get one good shot as the water misting starts to destroy the webbing and a good spray to remove the food coloring finishes the job. Estimate 8 weeks before they have reinfested the leaves. Enough plant is still alive for one more shot.

The sewing threads were to create spidermite super highways, and did help for the spider webs as long as they hugged the leaves.

Picture 2 had less glare due to angle.

Picture 3 which was just 3 pics stacked. If only I could get that clarity across picture number 1 but I was focusing on a perfect axis.





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rjlittlefield
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PostPosted: Mon Mar 21, 2016 11:09 pm    Post subject: Re: A few newbie questions on something im trying to capture Reply with quote

p_m00res, welcome aboard! Very Happy

As background, I should mention that I'm the fellow who wrote Zerene Stacker and I've answered all of the several thousand emails that people have written to support@zerenesystems.com . The issues that you're facing are pretty common concerns because they are fundamental to all focus stacking applications, not just Zerene Stacker.

p_m00res wrote:
I do not yet have a focusing rail so have been playing with focusing the lens manually for practice.

Focusing rails are great tools, but they don't help with any of the difficulties that you've mentioned. In fact, when it's possible to shoot a stack by using the focus ring on the lens, that's usually the better choice. You can read more about this issue at http://zerenesystems.com/cms/stacker/docs/troubleshooting/ringversusrail.

Quote:
The area above the '1' looks cloudy from the blurred out of focus portions of droplets. It appears to be added during the combining process. Is there anyway to process that out?

At the screen resolution that I can see here, I cannot tell for sure exactly what's going on. But from experience and general principles, I suspect that what you're seeing was not so much "added" during the combining process as it was "selected". That is, I suspect that you used a stacking method that operates by choosing information from mostly one frame in each small area, and for whatever reason that method chose frames in which the drops were more blurred than you would like. The two usual ways to address that problem are to either 1) use a different stacking method that is better at incorporating information from multiple frames, or 2) use retouching (within the stacking software) to override the software's decision about what is best to show.

We could tell better, if you can show us some crops at 100% actual pixels, showing the source frames that you would like to see and the corresponding area of the composite that you're not happy with.

Quote:
The Helicon Focus demo seems to cause the least ghosting.

Be aware that every good focus stacking package provides an assortment of methods and some parameters to control exactly what those methods do.

In Helicon Focus, the methods are named A, B, and C, and it matters a lot which one you've used.

Between Helicon Focus and Zerene Stacker, the differences most commonly seen by newbies is due to the fact that those two packages make different choices about which methods to encourage using. Most new users of Helicon Focus start by using methods A or B. Both of those tend to make "errors of omission", by which I mean that they tend to leave blurred areas in the composite, omitting focused detail that really was available in some source frame. But on the good side, those methods are less likely to produce ghosts. In Zerene Stacker, most new users start with the PMax method. That method tends to make "errors of commission", by which I mean that it's very unlikely to omit focused detail, but in exchange it's much more likely to produce ghosts if anything moves, or to produce ugly "sparklies" around specular reflections of small bright light sources.

Quote:
Big one (3), the glare facing south in a window with full sun, I think if I could limit that glare it would bring out the droplets. Is this something a polarizer filter remove? I want some sparkling but not so much it overwhelms the details.

A properly oriented polarizer should help, but the extent to which it will help depends on the angles involved. In the best of all cases, you can get near perfect extinction of the primary reflection from the top surface of each droplet. It's like using sunglasses to look into water. Get the angle exactly right and the surface reflections almost disappear. Move very far away from that angle, and it gets a lot less effective.

Since your subject seems to be pretty small, one advanced technique that you might consider is cross-polarization. The trick there, in your situation, would be to buy a sheet of polarizing material and place that between the sun and your subject, to polarize the illumination. Then a polarizer over your camera lens can be rotated to dial in just the amount of reflections that you want to see. For more about polarization, see http://www.photomacrography.net/forum/viewtopic.php?t=3945 and the links therein.

Quote:
Any other things that might help me (other then a focusing rail).

As mentioned, I'm not optimistic that the rail will help much.

As for other things that might help, my first thought is to wonder exactly what result you're trying to achieve.

Assuming that your subject is sort of a dense 3D cloud of droplets, with droplets at widely varying distances from the camera in each small area of the image, then you'll find it quite challenging to create a high quality focus stacked image when using hard illumination like full sunlight. The reasons for that are complicated to explain, but basically it has to do with the way that those bright specular highlights change appearance as they go out of focus. See http://www.photomacrography.net/forum/viewtopic.php?t=13898 for some discussion about that.

So, one possibility to consider is to soften the illumination by shooting on a cloudy day or by shading your subject with a sheet of diffusing material such as tracing paper or frosted plastic. Most of the best photos of shiny subjects are done with illumination that is a lot softer than naked sunlight.

I notice that you mention "water misting", which suggests to me that you're artificially applying the drops. In that case, you might consider using a spray of glycerin instead of water. This technique is commonly used in flower photography because it results in droplets that look like water but last a lot longer. Of course there would be some impact on the plant and the mites, and I have no idea if this would be acceptable for your application.

Then, it's worth keeping in mind that not all subjects are best addressed by focus stacking. If you're particularly interested in structure of the web, then you may find that single images, with the usual gradation from out-of-focus to in-focus to out-of-focus again, do a better job of conveying a sense of depth than a focus-stacked image with everything sharp. In the absence of other strong depth cues, images that are sharp everywhere tend to look "flat".

Stereo can provide a nice way of solving that problem, but only in special circumstances where your intended viewers will be able to see in stereo.

I have to say, the images that you have here look pretty good to me.

Can you go clear back to the beginning and tell us what you're trying to achieve?

--Rik
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p_m00res



Joined: 19 Mar 2016
Posts: 16

PostPosted: Tue Mar 22, 2016 2:19 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Wow Tks, for the detailed reply. A lot of information in there.

For this specific type of macro photo, I am trying to go for the alien. After wiping out the mites (so I had thought) last September, I realized I had just ruined a unique indoor photo opportunity. (researched spider mites die away from plant etc) I could have a indoor webbing project for the winter. Those pictures is the 2nd photo attempt are the 3rd infestation of mites. Working on letting them build generation 4. Makes my skin crawl but what I do for a photo.....

I envision a almost CGI like photo with rolling hills of droplets going off into the distance.

I'm brand new to using a DSLR so excluding the focus issues, I am still stumbling to find the button to change exposure while trying to get the droplets before they evaporate. Will mention these are on a used Tamron 180mm Macro and D5300. I kept the below f-11 though, using a remote trigger and of course on a good tripod so those areas of blurriness must be my lack of subtlety while focusing.

Even in the closeup though 'tack sharp' arn't quite tack sharp.

I included a insert in the 2nd picture of the original 1x photo pre-stacked. This showed my beliefs about the blooming of the light isn't the case here but the actual focal points need some work.

I will look into your glycerin suggestion, but suspect it might not working on a still living subject but I have plans later to buy a flower or 2 where glycerin could be useful.

A 2nd polarizer might be a idea especially when I get a light tent set up. Didn't know one could so thanks for that idea.

Now I have started reading the article on focusing rails, but not sure my budget goes to 'motorized' focusing rails... we shall see.

This pic shows worse glare and I didnt have the patience to focus with enough layers. Figuring I could have used 1-2 maybe 3 more between what I did capture.

The 1x pic shows how embarrassingly few lines of true focus there were. I see 4 in the closeup, that area alone probably needed 12 stacks.

Bright side, I have the material for a 3x3x3x foot home made light tent and 2 500 watt lights and a bare metal prep table. This project may fix the glare and I want the whole 27 cubic foot to be liftable so I can work on the subject with water etc and lower back over for photos. Carrying a spider mite infested Parsley plant to the light tent, not my favorite part of the project.

Just concerned a light tent might remove too much, guess I'll have to play with secondary lights.

I posted a worse glare issue photo that IF I could control glare and get proper spacing for focus.

The 2nd picture has a insert of a single frame from original pic,


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ChrisR
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PostPosted: Tue Mar 22, 2016 3:21 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

For trials it might be better to use f/16 in the knowledge that you'll have to reduce the image size quite a lot. It tends to make artefacts less noticeable etc, though.
You're obviously having trouble getting small enough focus steps, but at this magnification it should be very do able with any focus rail, you'll have several mm DOF.

Specular highlights are a real pain. Blow them right up in live view or review, to make sure they aren't clipping. I your camera has exposure bracketing which might be worth a try.
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rjlittlefield
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PostPosted: Tue Mar 22, 2016 8:52 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

If that lens supports automatic focus, then it contains a focus motor that can be repurposed for shooting focus stacks, tethered, under computer control. There's a number of software packages that can do the focusing, including some that are free.

If the lens is suitable and you're interested in that possibility, then let us know what you have available for computers and perhaps we can make some suggestions about software.

--Rik
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p_m00res



Joined: 19 Mar 2016
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PostPosted: Wed Mar 23, 2016 11:00 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I did go for cheap that worked and got the Tamron 180 macro, I know the Nikon 200mm equiv is around $2000. Far beyond my budget.

So sadly, the Tamron is fully manual. Bright side is I have a 180mm prime.

I was going back through previous days shoots and found 4 frames that were very tight, possibly a 5th frame in the middle is missing in a cropped section.

So I think what I need to do is get control on my focusing. If I can replicate the relative tightness of those 4 shots across 100 shots, I might have something.

But in this case, I took the pictures without a diffuser and a standard 100 watt home daylight bulb. Which ruined the reflections.

Also by day 2, the droplets had destroyed alot of the webbing structure.

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rjlittlefield
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PostPosted: Wed Mar 23, 2016 11:36 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

To help get control of focusing, a simple trick is to tape a paper scale onto the lens ring.

See http://www.photomacrography.net/forum/viewtopic.php?t=291 for an example. Be sure to read the whole thread for discussion.

That's an old post (2006), so it predates Zerene Stacker and uses Helicon Focus instead. The basic principles are identical, however.

--Rik
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p_m00res



Joined: 19 Mar 2016
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PostPosted: Thu Mar 24, 2016 10:42 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Tks for the above link.

I pondered the marking lines as per the other thread. Even tried a paper tape measure from my emergency sewing kit, 1 mm is too large a gap.

So after hours of playing a tweaking I was able to determine the smallest resolution lines I can print on stock paper on a cheap printer. Turns out its 1/3rd of a millimeter. Since they were difficult to see, I erased every other 1/3rd line (piece nearest front of lens). If I can find some photopaper, I might be able to get a finer line, sure I got some lying around somewhere.

On bottom I went with the 1 mm lines, but as you spin, 3 points in each centimeter of the 1 mm lines match up as the next 1/3rd mm spin, so one 1/3rd forward to the next line up.

With practice I will probably be able to subdivide it down more, 170nm 1/6th a mm is do-able even now.

Picture taken with a mockup on my only other lens Nikon18-140mm, the paper actually fits much better on the Tamron as it bevels out at the edge. Will figure out coating a printout with scotch tape, to make it more durable, might be attachable with a elastic band at that point.

Btw, after cursing at Photoshop, I eventually went into Visio where I 'arrayed' the individual rectangles, but very thin.

This ruler is printed precisely and the 11 centimeter on the inside is the full range of focus for my lens.

Now that this is done, got to work on my light tent.


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p_m00res



Joined: 19 Mar 2016
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PostPosted: Fri Mar 25, 2016 2:25 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Rjlittlefield tks again.... appears the ruler guides on the lens worked...

For some reason at 3am I was still awake playing with my camera, obvious thing to do. Take a picture of a POTATO. I know, was going through your mind too.

24 stacks, 3 house 100 watt daylight bulbs in shades, image of moss on tree branches on my Surface for a background to keep things natural, but very blurry.

Appears that little guide is exactly what I needed. I see lots of organic in this potato eye. I liberally waterboarded the potato first, as potatoes deserve waterboarding as much as spider mites.

Got a question if anyone got the time.

The focal length in this picture is approx 25mm and I moved the focus about 5mm in 24 steps. Can I use that to calculate anything. Show do I calculate the zoom?

With the 24 steps or 1mm can you just keep on stacking or should you stack in groups, then stack the results?


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