Although I've reported on the Helicon Focus Filter previously, on our Arizona High Speed Flash Photography Shoots I had an opportunity to once again play with the filter and create some exciting shots. As you may recall, in my previous discussion about the filter I mentioned how your subject must be motionless while you're shooting, otherwise the sharp edges may not match up. That certainly still holds true, but let me point out some points when doing composing and laying out the images.
I shot a series of approximately 8 shots of this large desert wolf spider, 'rolling' the focus from the pebbles in the foreground to the last leg segment of the spider. If you look carefully, the image actually seems to have shifted. You'll note a small rectangular piece of wood next to the left front leg (the right side in this spider) is a bit higher up in the frame, and there are more foreground pebbles in the image on the right.
The finished image nonetheless corrected for this and the finished image was sharp throughout. There were a few artifacts that appeared in the out-of-focus area behind the spider, but simple cloning corrected for that. It's important to keep the camera rock steady as you roll the focus, otherwise the chance of misregistry is definitely increased. Lighting needs to be consistent, too, and if you're using flash -- as I was for shooting the spider, pace yourself so that the flash has time to recylce fully between each image. Otherwise, if one or more shots aren't fully exposed, you might have gaps in the focused area, and that won't work either.
About eight shots were used for this glossy snake. The three included shows the head, mid-body and tail area, and the background. You can clearly see the differences in focus between the first and last image, with foreground sharp in one, soft in another, and the same for the background. Snakes pose another problem, and that is, if the snake is stressed or excited it might breathe deeply, and its body size will flucuate between shots. If that's the case, either wait until the snake calms down, or shoot fast, trying to time your shots between breaths of the snake.
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DIGITAL-Shoot for the Future, Part II
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