Fallen log near Mount Mansfield on a stream bank. Underhill, Vermont

Today’s image is the start of an experiment with a computer program that I have been wanting to try out for a number of years now….Helicon Focus. The program works by combining a series of images that you take all at different focus points within the composition giving you tack sharp focus from foreground to background. As you all know it can be quite difficult to do this without the software and generally you make tradeoffs when trying to get a strong foreground element to lead you into an image while keeping the background in focus. In this instance I would have to focus more on the log making the background soft or focus more in the middle of the composition making the extreme foreground and background soft.

Helicon Focus was designed for micro and macro photography but is equally at home in a landscape image. I found the software simple and easy to use and the 19 images that I took at every focus point on my Canon 7d did not tax my system in the least. I did find some limitations but possibly I can attribute those to my equipment or how I made the images. Here in this first example is the extreme foreground of the image. I shoot most of my landscapes with a Canon 17-40mm L series F4 lens and it has a minimum focus distance of just over 10 inches. This lens can be really soft just at the extreme edges of the frame but as you can see the foreground is tack sharp right to the edge…

Foreground view of the focus stacked images.

Not too shabby and definitely the direction that I wanted to take my work in the coming year. Nice, close up foregrounds with sharp backgrounds. Now in the next image of the extreme background is where the limitations can be seen…


Background view of the focus stacked images.

The upper corner here was quite soft and for some reason this small portion of the image had some funky banding almost like it was difficult for the software to stitch in this area of the image. I was ok with this as all I had to do was to slightly crop out this portion of the image. The background here was much sharper than in a unstacked image however still a little soft. I believe that this is due in part to where I had to place my focus points in the image…I wasn’t quite able to focus all the way into this corner. Water or moving objects can also be difficult to shoot and here I am shooting water in my first go with the software!

All in all I would say that the experiment was a success and I was quite pleased with the results. The software is fully functional during the 30 day trial so I will be posting more experiments here in the future!

Image Data: ISO 100. 17mm. F11 @ 0.5. 19 images shot at every focus point stacked.




9 thoughts on “Streamside

  1. Sounds like an interesting piece of software, but it also sounds like an awful lot of work. I suppose it’s all in the pursuit of that perfect shot though.

  2. I have heard about software similar to this and seen some macro results using it that are absolutely stunning. Never seen it used in a more traditional landscape setting. But it looks like it works well – great result

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