In some previous posts I showed the results of experimenting with focus stacking. In those posts, I would combine one of the individual shots with the finished effort to show how shallow the depth of field could be on individual shots and how deep the focus was on the final image. I was pondering whether this was an effective way of communicating the concept to someone when it occurred to me that animation might be a better way. I created a new stack of images for a different subject but this time I used Photoshop to animate the movement of the point of focus through the shot and then show the final image. This can then be an animated GIF. I wonder, does this provide a better demonstration?
In putting together a recent post about the kite festival in San Ramon I was taken back to my kite flying exploits when I lived in Lancashire. I had always been a kite fan as a kid and had a Peter Powell stunt kite at some point. In the early 90s, the designs of kites really got inventive. I bought my first flexifoil kite when I lived in Lytham and had a lot of fun flying it on the green by the sea. A few of my friends also got into the flying and they bought the same kite. The design meant it was easy to stack them on the same lines which meant you could have quite a lot of pull if the wind was good.
We weren’t the only ones flying though. Some other people were flying on the sands at St Annes so we headed down there one time to join in making quite a stack. My flexi was 6’ in span. We had about ten of them on the line with two 8’ span kites and one 10’ on top. The wind was not strong but this was quite a combination.
We all had a go at flying this. I found that I could turn it one way a lot better than the other as a result of lacking arm strength on one side. We all got dragged along by the combination. Retreating along the beach needed a couple of guys to drag you back. My mate, Rich, got caught by a big gust and went rolling down the beach. We realized later that his watch had been ripped off and we never found it. I guess kite flying is more dangerous than we realized!
I have been making some shots with multiple exposures to overlay. This is something I have posted about before and the shots here are similar to those from before. However, this post is less about the shots and more about the post processing I used. Previously I opened up all of the shots as layers in a single file and then auto-aligned them. Once done, I then used the Auto Blend functionality to show each shot o the aircraft in place.
This was a lot quicker than my previous approach and was something I picked up from posts on photographing star trails. However, recently, I have not been as happy with the results as I should have been. Some of the planes, particularly those near to the edges, had some odd artifacts appearing. Also, if there were any overlaps, the blending masks could give some weird effects. Therefore, I have taken a different approach for a while. This is slower, I admit, but I think it gives a better result.
Once the alignment of the images is done, I hide them all except the bottom layer by Alt clicking on the eye beside the last layer. Then I add the next layer up back in but mask it out completely. A white brush on the mask then allows me to paint back in the new aircraft positions. This is a bit laborious but it does allow you to decide exactly what you want in and what you don’t. if one file is not helpful to the composition, you can easily ignore it.
If the layers are not all exactly aligned from shooting on a tripod, you will also get gaps at the edges on different layers. You can also fill these in by brushing in the layers that provide the right coverage and get a complete image. Once you are happy, flatten the whole thing and you are done.