Garden Focus Stacking

Garden Focus Stacking

With the UK’s covid situation not improving and yet another lockdown us photographers have mostly been forced to work from home. Trying to motivate yourself to get out and do things can often be a hard task for many of us with the times being so glum, yet we can all still be creative.

I have the good fortune to know Javier Aznar. He is an extremely skilful macro photographer and after browsing on Instagram I came across some of his latest work. It was beautifully shot and anyone who makes others see the pure beautiful in the smaller creatures is a worthy photographer. After a bit of weight up I decided to head out in the garden to see whether I could find any macro subjects of my own.

Temperatures are rarely in double figures at the minute so it was a bit of gamble to find a subject as most will be curled up hibernating or out of plain sight. After the classic lifting of logs, of which I think every young naturalist has done since the dawn of time, I discovered a single Harvestman spider tucked in and amongst the grooves of the bark. With the cold temperatures the spider did not move at all which enabled me to use a technique called ‘focus stacking’. This involves shooting many frames, each with a different point of focus. Then in the editing process you would ‘stack’ all the images on top of each other to create a complete pane of focus throughout the image. This technique often results in an extremely detailed image of a subject.

After having a great time finding a subject that would stay still long enough for me to try out the focus stacking technique I then watched as the underside of the logs came to life. The most interesting animal to make an appearance was the Springtails. These tiny hexapods are less than a millimetre in size but are incredible in the colouration. The larger neighbours the woodlice looked like armoured tanks next to these tiny little explorers. To photograph them I used a flash to get a high enough shutter speed to freeze the springtails as they wandered up and down the log.

Having enjoyed my time getting back outdoors I will look to get out more in the garden. It is also a good time to learn from others such as Javier, to practice something new.