Focus Stack Retouching

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Focus stacking is a great method for blending a combination of images captured from the same locked-down position but focused at different points. In this free video, world renowned outdoor photographer Ian Plant introduces you to Helicon Focus, a standalone piece of editing software he highly recommends. A common problem when blending images is movement, clouds in motion or tree branches swaying. Ian shows you how he focus-stacked eight landscape images, then found the clouds were out of alignment. He demonstrates how to use the retouching tool to make the corrections and turn the final file into a beautifully sharp landscape. Join pro photographer Ian Plant for the most efficient way to make focus stacking work for you.

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5 Responses to “Focus Stack Retouching”
  1. John Freeman

    Ian, while you very briefly touched on the fact that you can use any of the images from the stack you used the first one which is the closest focused image. For the clouds most likely the last image of the group was the one that was truly focused on the clouds. I personally would have selected the last image to correct the clouds, starting with a larger brush to correct the areas with only sky & clouds and no other close objects such as the branches of the dead tree. Then I would have reduced the size of the brush to a much smaller size, , increased the brush hardness and zoomed in some and brushed around the branches to correct the clouds near the branches. I have used this technique extensively and while a bit time consuming yields very good results. It is also useful with you have motion of trees etc. due to wind. Helcon will sometimes get confused about which focal distance to use. Using a small brush size, I will select the image that has the best focus for the object and brush over the areas Helcon wasn’t able to properly identify.

    I know this was just a demonstration but you also briefly brushed over the mountain which would have caused it to appear out of focus.

  2. Bill

    Ticket 17298 I’m assuming that you’re focusing by hand for this. Have you tried the Helicon FB tube to do this automatically? Any opinions on that piece of hardware?

    • Customer Service

      Dear Bill,

      Thank you for your patience. In regards to your question-

      Yes, I manually focused my lens. I have never used the Helicon FB tube and have no experience with it, sorry!


      Outdoor Photography Guide Video Membership


    Nice review of something I have never tried. You glossed over the software. No where in your description do you mention the software. What are you using? Are there others that you might use?

    • Customer Service


      In the written description of the lesson there is this comment:

      In this free video, world renowned outdoor photographer Ian Plant introduces you to Helicon Focus, a standalone piece of editing software he highly recommends.

      If you’d like other options and you Google “focus stacking software”. You can read about a number of other options including Adobe Photoshop.

      Happy Shooting!

      Outdoor Photography Guide