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Hand Held Stacking

 
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PaulFurman



Joined: 24 Oct 2009
Posts: 595
Location: SF, CA, USA

PostPosted: Sun Oct 25, 2009 3:07 pm    Post subject: Hand Held Stacking Reply with quote

I've just begun using the trial for Zerene Stacker, and have a nice rig for precise tabletop work but also it can be nice to do hand held shots in the field.

Is is safe to assume I need to manually align the shots in photoshop first? That's a lot of work! Also I tend to do several attempts and often they are close enough to the same perspective to apparently be usable although that requires re-sorting.

The editor in Zerene is neat but usually seems to bring my laptop to it's knees. Is that common or I've configured something wrong? 2.5ghz dual core with 3GB RAM available and very little HD space. A rebuild with win7 is in order soon.

I usually shoot raw but I guess it's worth doing jpeg to get more speed & duration with continuous clickety-click style shooting :-) D700 is pretty good at this but not good enough to get more than about 5 shots raw. I'll have to check the histogram real careful & shoot manual.
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PaulFurman



Joined: 24 Oct 2009
Posts: 595
Location: SF, CA, USA

PostPosted: Sun Oct 25, 2009 3:18 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

My photoshop technique:

Open first frame in irfanview, launch to photoshop with shift-E

F6 in irfanview, copy file name, rename the layer as file name in PS

mouse wheel in irfanview to next, shift-E to launch in PS

F6 in irfanview, copy file name, rename the layer as file name in PS

expand canvas size to give working room

set layer properties to difference, ctl-T transform to match

rinse lather & repeat.. clearing undo history & saving often so it doesn't crash.

crop & reset layer properties to normal.

Zerene would be a lot better for manually masking when that makes sense but performance is a problem. PS is quicker for that reason but it's painful. I tried CombineZM first but prefer Zerlene.
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rjlittlefield
Site Admin


Joined: 01 Aug 2006
Posts: 17501
Location: Richland, Washington State, USA

PostPosted: Sun Oct 25, 2009 5:51 pm    Post subject: Re: Hand Held Stacking Reply with quote

PaulFurman wrote:
Is is safe to assume I need to manually align the shots in photoshop first?

If they're close enough to stack well, then usually Zerene can align them itself. You might need to increase the limits in Options > Preferences > Alignment. The defaults are OK for most mechanical stacking, but sometimes they're too tight for handheld stacks.
Quote:
The editor in Zerene is neat but usually seems to bring my laptop to it's knees. Is that common or I've configured something wrong? 2.5ghz dual core with 3GB RAM available and very little HD space.

Depends on what "to its knees" means.

If the cursor moves sluggishly even when the brush is small, then your laptop might be one that runs afoul of display "acceleration" that actually makes things slower. See the KnownIssues page for a workaround for that.

If it's pausing with a progress bar at upper left, then you need to be aware that there's some delay (a couple of seconds) every time you release the mouse button. It's much better to hold the button down and stroke than to "dab" the brush with press-and-release, press-and-release.

If navigation between source frames is sluggish, then practice press-and-drag over the list of source files, or equivalently, shift-press-and-drag over the source image window. In either case, the software stays in an accelerated mode showing "preview" images until you release the mouse to finish selecting the image to edit from, at which point there's a few seconds delay while the software prepares a high quality version of the image for editing. As with editing, it's better to press-and-stroke than to press-and-release, press-and-release.

In general, editing gets slower in proportion to pixel count. How many pixels are your images?

--Rik
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PaulFurman



Joined: 24 Oct 2009
Posts: 595
Location: SF, CA, USA

PostPosted: Sun Oct 25, 2009 8:00 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks, very helpful pointers!

Yes, slow jerky cursor response. I'm hesitant to fiddle with vista's acceleration till I understand the implications but I will... If I also had PS or Lightroom open the whole computer would go into a temporary coma :-)

Becoming familiar with the progress bar helps, and the other tips. I've got 12MP jpegs at 2.7MB each. It seemed to work better with heavily compressed jpegs in a test?

I was just working with somewhat larger frames and could do up to about 7 frames before it became unmanageable. 4 frames was not too bad. I'm pretty early in the learning process. I stacked 61 frames before, just couldn't edit but maybe possible now that I know what to look for.

Here's what I've been working with:


I ended up doing it in groups of 4-7 as they were shot, then stacking the resulting jpegs which worked great. It's pretty overprocessed but a good learning experience.
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rjlittlefield
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Joined: 01 Aug 2006
Posts: 17501
Location: Richland, Washington State, USA

PostPosted: Sun Oct 25, 2009 8:35 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

PaulFurman wrote:
If I also had PS or Lightroom open the whole computer would go into a temporary coma :-)

Becoming familiar with the progress bar helps, and the other tips. I've got 12MP jpegs at 2.7MB each. It seemed to work better with heavily compressed jpegs in a test?

I was just working with somewhat larger frames and could do up to about 7 frames before it became unmanageable. 4 frames was not too bad. I'm pretty early in the learning process. I stacked 61 frames before, just couldn't edit but maybe possible now that I know what to look for.

This is an odd set of symptoms. Source file format should not matter much, because the very first thing that ZS does with all images is to uncompress and convert them to a single internal format. Number of frames should not matter much because ZS only holds images for two stack frames and the composite at any given time. However ZS uses the Java garbage collector, which implicitly assumes that the entire address space assigned to the Java process will remain in physical memory. The symptoms suggest that Vista is actually paging some of it out. It's an unusual suggestion, but you might try going into Options > Preferences > Memory Usage and assigning less memory than the maximum allowed, say 1100 MB instead of 1600. That will trigger a bit more garbage collection, but if the smaller footprint prompts Vista to leave it all in memory, it could be a big win.

--Rik
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PaulFurman



Joined: 24 Oct 2009
Posts: 595
Location: SF, CA, USA

PostPosted: Sat Oct 31, 2009 1:24 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm just posting an update and share my new techniques.

Rik, your suggestions for working with ZS were great & solved most of my problems. I wouldn't be able to open that many photos or layers in Photoshop but it does indeed work with Zerlene.

There were just a few cases where I had to manually reposition an image or two that was way out of wack in photoshop. Also for hand held, with small sets of just a few stacked, it can be worthwhile to run through & blur out ugly specular highlights so I don't have to do it in ZS. These hand held stacks take a lot of retouching and ZS is indispensable for that.

I can shoot pretty easily on a bellows at around 2:1 with the lens at around f/5.6 or even f/11 in full sun and ISO 800 jpegs, I can rattle off many shots quickly on the D700. Raw only allowed several then a big wait. Live view can't do continuous bursts like that. I shot at about 1/160 to 1/320 with relatively few motion blur problems. The first task is to cull the set & get rid of those and ones that are completely out of focus.

It doesn't matter if you rock back & forth, Zerlene figures it out. So if you keep the same position, it would be possible and advisable to get as many shots as possible. In practice I didn't do more than a couple dozen each but wish I'd done more. What does matter is the starting image sets the framing so in some cases I slid the first image to where I wanted in photoshop. Another way is to start in the middle on a nicely framed shot & do two stacks, one reversed. Those can be stacked easily in a second round. And it's easier working with smaller sets although I'd end up making redundant/pointless retouching moves. I suppose just renaming the favorite would work to get it in front & set the framing. Maybe I'm missing an option to chose the key frame?

It would be nice to pre-process these onto a larger canvas because of the sometimes big differences in framing, it might turn out that somewhat of a stitched panorama would be best. This is how I do it manually in photoshop. Soft backgrounds can easily be cloned in for missing corners. The way ZS stretches out missing areas is kind of annoying but I guess it won't work if it's white. In some small sets I faked in a background with another frame and blurred that out and erased the edges soft. Those stack up real clean without the retouching pains.

Here's a couple shots from yesterday:
http://www.photomacrography.net/forum/viewtopic.php?t=8433
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rjlittlefield
Site Admin


Joined: 01 Aug 2006
Posts: 17501
Location: Richland, Washington State, USA

PostPosted: Sat Oct 31, 2009 3:53 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks for the feedback about my suggestions. I'm glad to see that things are working better.

The streaky treatment of missing data is on the list of things to improve (get rid of, in that case). Likewise for being able to set a reference frame. It's a long list, though, so I can't say exactly when either one will get done. Pre-processing onto a larger canvas is something that hadn't occurred to me, so I've added that one to the list.

The images you posted look great.

--Rik
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