Welcome to the 2nd installment and follow up to the Develop an Image – part-2 post from a couple of weeks ago. As a reminder, we were working on the intriguing image of rock formation in Gold Butte National Monument and had completed processing in Adobe Camera Raw (ACR):
One quick note is that ACR can be invoked as a filter in Photoshop, which is an option that is fun to explore as there are some great presets in the Camera Raw Filter.
Next we take the 5 images and open them in Photoshop by clicking on the Open button. This opens the 5 files individually, so we’ll have to bring them into a single Photoshop file. I do this by going to using the first file that is open as the Background layer; then I go to the remaining files and select the image with a Command-A, copying it to the clipboard with a Command-C going to the background file tab and with a simple Command-V bringing the image in as a layer. That provides the following layers:
Select all 5 layers and in Photoshop’s Edit menu select Auto-Align Layers… and use the Auto option; this ensures that any slight shifts between the shots are fully aligned. Then select Auto-Blend Layers… from the Edit menu, and the following dialog pops up:
The choice here is to Stack Images; I use the smarts of Photoshop to let it ensure that Tones and Colors are blended seamlessly and I trust its Content Aware Fill algorithms (they are good!). After some compute cycles, your layer panel will look as follows:
The magic is in the masks that Photoshop generates for each of the layers, as it uses the focal distance of each shot and selects that which is the most precise focus to composite the resultant focus-stacked layer.
At this point, all we have left to do is make the final adjustments, which I will cover in the next installment. In part 3, I’ll introduce you to some of the other tools in my Photoshop arsenal to help unleash some of its power without having to master all the complexities.