Keeping it All in Focus

Today’s Post by Mark Toal

For the past few years the trend has been towards images with shallow depth-of-field. Photographers want faster lenses with smaller apertures to get as little in focus as possible. f/1.4 lenses aren’t good enough so we now have f/1.2 options. Throughout the history of photography the trend has gone from maximum depth-of-field to shallow and back again.

f/64 was the name of a group of California photographers that included Ansel Adams who believed in making photographs that captured maximum reality and a deep depth-of-focus. A camera lens set to f/64 would have that extreme depth-of-field.

Car engine before and after

I recently watched an Orson Wells biography and they pointed out that one of the amazing things about the movie Citizen Kane was that everything was in focus. This got me thinking more about how to bring this to my photography. If you’re shooting outdoors in the sun it’s fairly easy; just set the aperture to the minimum aperture setting for the lens you’re using. It’s usually f/16 or f/ 22 on modern interchangeable lens cameras. If you’re indoors it’s a little more tricky because you would have to raise the ISO which can introduce noise or use a tripod, which isn’t always possible or convenient.

Grey caddie before and after

I recently visited a car museum, The World of Speed, in Wilsonville, OR. They don’t allow tripods so I decided to try shooting in the Post Focus mode on my Panasonic Lumix GX8 with the goal of focus stacking the images to achieve maximum depth of field. Focus stacking allows me to shoot at a low ISO and small aperture. Each image is automatically captured at a different focus point so that when you combine the image you get maximum depth of field. I recently wrote a blog about how to stack images using Lightroom and Photoshop.

These two examples below show the before single image shot at f/1.7 and the result of stacking multiple images also shot at f/1.7 handheld.