EDoF (Extended Depth of Field)

piecesIn the High Dynamic Range post, I explained how it is possible to take a series of pictures, each taken of the same shot but at different exposures, and combine them into one image using software so that the full dynamic range of the scene is evident.

EDoF is a similar concept, where you take a series of photos of the same shot with varying points of focus and combine them, again using software, into one image where (at least) a majority of the image is all in focus. Adobe and Helicon call this focus stacking. It is of particular interest to those who are interested in macro photography, because at times, the depth of field is only as deep as the diameter of a hair. The one difficulty of the process is that the scene has to be totally static, with nothing moving even a tiny amount.

The shot above (none of the photos in this set will win any awards, but that was not the idea, anyway) is made up of nine different photos. All (and all the photos in this post, actually) were taken using a tripod, manual focus and aperture priority so that the f/stop, and thus the depth of field around the focus point, remained the same on each shot. Below are three photos out of the set that produced the photo above, one with the focus early, one where the focus is in the middle and one where the focus is at the end.

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These shots were stacked in Adobe Elements using the independent (and highly recommended) Elements+ add on. Earlier, I mentioned Helicon; that is a company that also makes several software packages specifically related to EDof and which are generally considered to be the industry standard in the field.

In the next two series of shots, the focus-to-the-front picture is shown first, a focus-to-the-middle shot is shown second, the focus-to-the-rear shot shown third and finally the stacked (all focused) picture shown last. Both series were comprised of about 20 shots each. All I can say is, “It’s a neat trick, when you can get away with it!”

And before anyone says anything, yes, I am aware of the irony of a post on EDoF in a blog named the Book of Bokeh. Such is life.

Before viewing the rest of the photographs, I would also like to invite you to visit the poetry blog, the Book of Pain. Thank you for dropping by the Book of Bokeh.

PS: Thanks to Andrew Nixon of the excellent and recommended Andrew Nixon’s Photo Blog for first bringing focus stacking to my attention. I just love learning new things!

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All photographs and comments ©2014 by John Etheridge with all rights reserved; not to be used without the expressed written permission of the copyright owner.

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19 thoughts on “EDoF (Extended Depth of Field)

    • You are very, very welcome, and thank you for dropping by the Book of Bokeh. Things will get back more to normal in the New Year (I hope!) 🙂

      In the meantime I hope that you have been having a happy, healthy and safe Holidays season, too!

  1. The end results of the technique you are using is truly amazing. Just goes to show how hard work and study usually pay more in dividends than in serendipity……….but let’s hear it for serendipity. Beautiful work work John!!!

    • Steve, yes, some folks are awful clever, aren’t they? Poor Ansel Adams worked like a dog for this affect, and we can get it in minutes. Ain’t progress grand? (Not to suggest that anything I can photograph will be as good as Ansel Adams, of course! 🙂 )

    • Rob, thank you very muc! Hopefully with some time over the holidays I might be able to try a few more ‘artistic’ shots using this technique.

  2. ” I am aware of the irony of a post on EDoF in a blog named the Book of Bokeh.”… damn it ! I was exactly thinking that 😀 ! It is a very interesting concept and a very informative post ! Like you mentioned, very useful for macro, especially for insects or maybe tiny flowers or part of flowers. I’ll have a look at adobe photoshop cc and see if it’s possible to do it as well.

    • Ha! Beat you to it! And, in fact, technically there is some bokeh quality in a fully focused image. Bokeh is the artistic merit of the out of focus area in a photograph. Sometimes the artistic merit is best improved by zero % bokeh. But as the Arabs knew better than the Romans, zero is a valid number! 🙂

      Adobe Photoshop CC does have focus stacking. In fact, that is the beauty of the Essentials+ utility I mentioned. For a very small sum it makes dozens of Photoshop CC utilities available in the far cheaper Adobe Elements software. It turns out that both Photoshop and Elements share the same photo manipulation engine, it is just that the user interface of Photoshop allows the user to use all of these functions, while the user interface of Elements only exposes some of the features. What Elements+ does is expose the invisible functions in Elements and makes them available. I’m amazed at the value this represents! And it’s fun, too! 🙂

    • Thank you very much, Ken, you are always a super supporter! In fact, I am hoping over the holidays to have some time to do some close macro work using EDoF which more than proves the idea but results in some nice shots too…stay tuned. Or, I just may eat my body weight in chocolate and leave it at that, I’m not sure. Anyway, I’ll do one or the other. 🙂

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