Learning Photoshop Close-up photo stacking of flowers

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LVF
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Joined: Sun Apr 23, 2017 4:17 pm
Location: Sequim, Washington

Learning Photoshop Close-up photo stacking of flowers

Post by LVF »

On May 6, I posted my very first attempt at photo stacking using Photoshop CS6. My subject photographed was the 10.5 inch long Lens Align Ruler. Photoshop did a great stack of the full 10.5 inches ruler length but was a complete failure at stacking just 5 inches of the ruler when I moved the camera up closer for a 1:2 close-up stack. Zerene Stacker had no trouble stacking the photos of the 5 inch portion of the ruler.

Today, I am posting my second attempt at stacking photos and giving Photoshop CS6 a second chance at stacking. The subject being photographed this time is a bouquet of orange Gerbera Daisy flowers:

Image

This photo was taken with the Nikkor 16-80mm f/2.8-4E lens mounted on the Nikon D500 camera.

I used the Nikkor 300mm f/4E PF lens mounted on the Nikon D500 camera to take 15 photos of the flowers in small increments from front to back of the bouquet.

As I have posted before, the 300mm lens takes a 1:4 photo at 4 ft. I used my D500 target to determine the close-up capability of this lens at various distances from the front of the lens to the target. Here is a photo of the D500 target I made using Photoshop:

Image

A 1:4 close-up did not include all of the flowers, so I moved the front of the lens back to 6 feet from the flowers. At 6 feet, the lens gives a 1:6 close-up as shown here:

Image

A 1:6 photo with the Nikon D500 camera covers a area approximately 5.5 by 4 inches, enough to see nearly all of the flowers.

Here is the first of the 15 photos showing the bottom left flower petals in focus:

Image

And here is the last of the 15 photos showing the top right flower nearly out of focus:

Image

I used Photoshop CS6 to try and stack the 15 photos. I opened the 15 photos as 15 layers. I selected all 15 layers and aligned them (edit>align layers). Then with all 15 layers aligned, I blended them (edit>blend layers). The blend look very good, so I proceeded to flatten the 15 blended layers into one layer (layer>flatten image). That produced the final stack shown here:

Image

Photoshop successfully stack the 15 photos! This is a stack of 15 photos taken 6 feet from the front of the 300mm lens which is a stack of 1:6 close-up photos.

I wanted to see how sharp or not sharp the stack is, so I cropped the final photo to a 1:3 photo:

Image

Looking good. So I cropped it again to a 1:1.5 photo to get a close look:

Image

This is a really sharp photo that was taken 6 feet from the front of the Nikkor 300mm f/4E PF lens mounted of the Nikon D500 camera. This is really a sharp lens!

This 1:1.5 close-up photo clearly shows the structure of the Orange Gerbera Daisy. The center dark purple pointy rods are the "disk florets". Around the center disk is the "trans florets". These trans florets are purple/yellow banana-like male stamen. Around the trans florets are the yellow flower "ray florets". And finally there are the flowers petals surrounding the inner structure.

So why not take a closer look. I again cropped the final photo to a 1:0.75 close-up which is a 1.33:1 crop (this covers an area approximately 0.7 by 0.5 inches):

Image

For a photo taken 6 feet 8 inches from the Nikon D500 sensor, I would say that is really impressive.

My next post will be using these 15 photos of the Orange Gerbera Daisy to learn stacking using Zerene Stacker. I downloaded the free 30 day trial beta version and used it to stack the Lens Align Ruler. It was successful but the DMAX stack could have been a lot better if I knew how to use the program. So I will spend the day learning Zerene Stacker.

Leon

rjlittlefield
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Post by rjlittlefield »

Leon,

The last image shows again the same strange fine-scale banding texture that we have seen in your earlier crops:

Image

If this were appearing at a larger scale, I would ask what stylistic filter you're using. But since it only appears at fine scale, I'm thinking it is probably a side effect of some sharpening process.

Can you tell us in detail how you are processing these images? Are they coming out of the camera this way? If so, what are your camera settings? Or are you processing them on computer, and if so what with, and with what settings?

--Rik

LVF
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Location: Sequim, Washington

Rik

Post by LVF »

You are right. It is probably over sharpening in Camera Raw for this really close-up view.

I first open the Nef files in DxO Optics Pro version 11.4 (Photoshop CS6 will not open Nikon D500 camera Nef files). I do not process the files in DxO. I immediately export the 15 Nef file as Dng files to my desktop.

I then open all 15 Dng files in Camera Raw CS6. I select all the 15 files in Camera Raw and adjust the various parameters to my liking. I perform sharpening at 100% view until it looks O.K. However, the sharpening in Camera Raw is probably to much at this extreme high magnification close -up view.

I then save the 15 files as tiff files to my desktop. I then open the 15 tiff files as 15 layers in Photoshop and only proceed to stack the 15 tiff files; I do not do any modification of the layers in Photoshop.

So in Camera raw, I slightly increase the exposure if required, adjust the shadow and black sliders, adjust the highlight and whites sliders, and adjust the contrast and clarity to my liking. As a final adjustment, I increase the view to 100% and do some sharpening but not over sharpening at 100% view. I am sure when you look at the files at 400% to 600% you will see some strange details.

Leon

jhansman
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Re: Rik

Post by jhansman »

LVF wrote:You are right. It is probably over sharpening in Camera Raw for this really close-up view.

I first open the Nef files in DxO Optics Pro version 11.4 (Photoshop CS6 will not open Nikon D500 camera Nef files). I do not process the files in DxO. I immediately export the 15 Nef file as Dng files to my desktop.

Leon
Leon-
I assume that when you say "Photoshop CS6 will not open Nikon D500 camera Nef files" you mean Camera Raw, right? If so, how do the RAW files coming out of the D500 differ from other NEF files? I can't imagine that Nikon would make a file format not compatible with either PS or Lightroom.

-Jeff

LVF
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Jeff

Post by LVF »

Adobe stopped supporting opening all new camera raw files for Photoshop CS6, which includes not allowing me to open the D500 Nef files in Photoshop CS6.

When I say Photoshop CS6 will not open Raw Nef files I mean Camera Raw will not open the Raw Nef files. I say "Photoshop" because most people know there is Photoshop but my not know that there a Camera Raw.

I now open my Raw Nef files with DxO Optics Pro and export the file as a Dng file, which will open in Camera Raw.

Leon

jhansman
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Post by jhansman »

OK, I''m a bit confused. So, when I open Bridge (which I never use, but did to test this out), I can right-click on any of my NEF files and "Open in Camera Raw" appears as an option, and they open for editing in CR 9.1.1. Now, these all came out of my D7000, so are you saying that were I to buy, say a D5/500, I could not do the same thing with NEF files created by those bodies? If so, why in heck would Adobe do such a thing? I mean, what's it to them what version of NEF files we create to do post with their software? Just askin'...

Chris S.
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Post by Chris S. »

Jeff,

It's a long-established fact that Adobe Camera Raw requires constant updating as new camera models are rolled out. If one's camera is not supported by a given version of Camera Raw, one must either update Camera Raw or convert the raw file to dng and open this with Camera Raw (as Leon does).

I don't know why Camera Raw works this way, and have suspected that Adobe does it to created planned obsolescence, forcing users to pay for updates or cloud-based software rental. This said, I haven't thought about it overmuch, as, like you, I don't use Camera Raw. And like you, I'd think that a nef file is a nef file, regardless of which Nikon camera produces it.

--Chris S.

rjlittlefield
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Post by rjlittlefield »

Chris S. wrote:And like you, I'd think that a nef file is a nef file, regardless of which Nikon camera produces it.
Alas, quoting from http://fileformats.archiveteam.org/wiki/Nikon:
Nikon Electronic Format is Nikon's RAW digital image format for DSLR cameras. It is a close relative to TIFF, and has a standard TIFF header. NEF files are usually big-endian, with the exception of files from the Coolpix 5700, which were little-endian. Data can be either 12- or 14-bit (from 2005's D200 onwards), and depending on the camera may be uncompressed, losslessly compressed, or lossily compressed.
...
Starting with the Nikon D2H, Nikon attempted to encrypt white balance information to prevent third-party tools from being able to render an image properly (which Nikon claimed was to ensure that images would always render consistently). This was swiftly broken.

Nikon also attempts to encrypt lens data. This has also been broken.
In other words, a nef file may not be a nef file, depending on which camera produced it and what you happen to think a nef file should be. As far as I can tell, Nikon has never produced a specification for NEF format. All third-party decoders have been reverse-engineered.

Much as I hate defending Adobe, I think this unfortunate situation is mostly of Nikon's making. And in fairness to Nikon, they seem to be following industry standard practice in not releasing their file specifications. Canon does not release theirs either. I haven't checked any of the others.

--Rik

jhansman
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Post by jhansman »

Hmmm, all very interesting. I was aware of camera profiles, but not that if yours was not among those supported, you were out of luck with you native file format. And yeah, DNG really is the way to go (I learned this using one of Kelby's books in which he recommends converting any proprietary RAW file into DNG for future-proofing) if you want to retain all your data and not get stuck with a proprietary format until you save out to TIFF. So, between the camera manufacturers and Adobe, we're kind of at their mercy. I do think Adobe is trying to move us all to their cloud, which I have so far resisted; I'm just not comfortable having to do my post with the mothership constantly syncing my work. I know all the arguments in favor, but I prefer a stand alone setup. I do 90% of my work in Lightroom, and have stopped trying to master PS6. Glad I have it, but I just don't use it much. Thanks for the info.

P.S. Chris-do you know if your NEF files will open in Lightroom? I know that it and CR use the same engine, so are you shut out of both? That would suck.

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