Photography & Filming

Focus stacking images for increased depth of field

You probably know by now that I enjoy infrared photography. While this post is shot with an infrared-converted camera, I’m sharing a technique to get everything in focus in your image. A super depth of field is achieved working this way.


Using a long lens to compress a scene can leave some of your images soft. I prefer to capture my photos with an aperture opened up a bit from fully stopped down. Using this technique, there is no worry that an area will be out of focus.

Best to set your camera on a tripod or steady surface. In this case, I used the Platypod camera support as I wanted a low angle close to the ground. I focused on the foreground, the desert plant and the background without moving the camera.

Here are the three images blended in this tutorial. Note they are not sequential as I bracket exposures ‘just in case’ when capturing infrared images.


Get started processing the images in Adobe Camera Raw for density, highlight and shadow. Click Done so the image settings are associated with the files.

Then, open the files using the Photoshop command in the Tools menu, Load Files into Photoshop Layers.

Once in Photoshop, highlight all three layers in the Layers palette. In the Edit menu, select Auto-Align Layers. Auto mode works well; there is a need to align layers.

Auto-Align Layers palette

When focus is changed there is a slight shift in the size of the images. This will correct for that. With images still highlighted, use the Edit menu to Auto-Blend Layers.

Auto-Blend dialog

Check on Stack Images and Seamless Tones and Colors in the dialog box. Photoshop makes masks to blend all the sharp pixels together.

Layers palette after Photoshop has executed Auto-Align and Auto-Blend.

Increase the viewing size of your image and check that there are no errors with blurry spots. If there are you can make adjustments to the masks.

Done and done

Finished image with full sharpness front to back.

Above is the final infrared image above after final processing. By the way, I use LifePixel Infrared for my infrared camera conversions.

Yours in Creative Photography, Bob

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